Heritage, Spring 2003 Page: 14
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The following text was automatically extracted from the image on this page using optical character recognition software:
Frustrated, drovers and cattlemen lobbied Congress to create
a national cattle highway that would run from the
Nueces River to Canada, but the day had passed. The
arrival of barbed wire on the prairies doomed the enterprise,
as open range herders found themselves blocked from
their traditional trails and waterholes. By 1885, the way to
Dodge City was increasingly difficult to navigate amid the
legal and physical barriers. An American way of life, indelibly
linked to the identity of this nation, was becoming
Incredibly, so were the longhorns. Barbed wire made
controlled breeding feasible, and these new ranchers
turned to other meatier, fatter breeds. Durham bulls and
Hereford breeders transformed the longhorns into new
strains of heavier, faster-producing creatures. Railroads
pushed deeper into Texas carrying this stocky-legged
livestock off to the butcher, ending the need for animals
that could walk 15 miles a day and still gain weight. By
1920, just a little more than three decades since the collapse
of the range cattle industry and its reincarnation
as the ranching industry, longhorns had all but disappeared.
Later in the 1920s, conservationists collected a tiny herd
of breeding stock from the original South Texas population
and brought them to the Wichita
Mountains Wildlife Refuge in southwestern
Oklahoma. Later, Texas historians,
ranchers, naturalists, and oilmen collected
other small herds for the state park system.
Tourists could view these remnant
bands at Palo Duro State Scenic Park,
Abilene State Park, Fort Griffin State
Historic Park, Possum Kingdom State
Recreational Area, Dinosaur Valley State
Park, and Copper Breaks State Park.
Outside of these enclaves, cattlemen
purchased a few as curiosities and
reminders of a by-gone day. Not surprisingly,
these same ranchers began to take
notice when these sturdy beasts thrived
on marginal pastures, resisted cattle diseases,
and calved easy and often. In the
early 1960s, Hill Country ranchman
Charles Schreiner III organized the
Texas Longhorn Breeders Association of
America, which included a registry system
by which the breed could be tracked
and kept pure. Now, far removed from
their near extinction, the future of the
longhorn seems secure, a hoofed and
horned reminder of the day when beeves
and cowboys roamed free and a tidy
profit could be had for those willing to
take the gamble.
The essay was written by Donald S. Frazier,
Ph.D., of McMurry University, and is provided
courtesy of The Buffalo Gap Historic
Village, an educational program of The
Grady McWhiney Research Foundation.
The essay is the McWhiney Foundation
2001. Visit the organization at
H E R ITA G E SPRING 2003
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Texas Historical Foundation. Heritage, Spring 2003, periodical, Spring 2003; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth45378/m1/14/?q=contract%20drovers%20cattle: accessed January 16, 2019), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas Historical Foundation.