The First North South Cattle Trail In Texas
The Shawnee Trail played a signficant role in Texas and beyond
in the early 1800s. A group of interested cities from Waco to
Pottsboro, and cities in between hope you enjoy some of the sights
and sounds that play homage to the Shawnee Trail in each of our
Of the principal routes by which Texas longhorn cattle were taken afoot to railheads to the north, the earliest and easternmost was the Shawnee Trail. Used before and just after the Civil War, the Shawnee Trail gathered cattle from east and west of its main stem, which passed through Austin, Waco, and Dallas. It crossed the Red River at Rock Bluff, near Preston, and led north along the eastern edge of what became Oklahoma, a route later followed closely by the Missouri-Kansas-Texas Railroad. The drovers took over a trail long used by Indians in hunting and raiding and by southbound settlers from the Midwest; the latter called it the Texas Road. North of Fort Gibson the cattle route split into terminal branches that ended in such Missouri points as St. Louis, Sedalia, Independence, Westport, and Kansas City, and in Baxter Springs and other towns in eastern Kansas. Early drovers referred to their route as the cattle trail, the Sedalia Trail, the Kansas Trail, or simply the trail. Why some began calling it the Shawnee Trail is uncertain, but the name may have been suggested by a Shawnee village on the Texas side of the Red River just below the trail crossing or by the Shawnee Hills, which the route skirted on the eastern side before crossing the Canadian River.
Other Cattle Trails
The Chisholm Trail was a trail used in the late 19th century to drive cattle overland from ranches in Texas to Kansas railheads. Texas ranchers using the Chisholm Trail started on that route from either the Rio Grande or San Antonio, Texas, and went to the railhead of the Kansas Pacific Railway in Abilene, Kansas, where the cattle would be sold and shipped eastward.
The Goodnight-Loving Trail ran from Young County, Texas, southwest to Horsehead Crossing on the Pecos River, up the Pecos to Fort Sumner, New Mexico, and on north to Colorado. The trail was sometimes known simply as the Goodnight Trail.
The Western Trail was also called the Dodge City Trail or simply the Texas Trail. By 1879 the Western Trail was the principal thoroughfare for Texas cattle bound for northern markets. Feeder routes such as the Matamoros Trail from Brownsville and the Old Trail from Castroville converged in Kerrville to form the Western Trail.