The Trail that Changed Texas Transcript

The Trail That Changed Texas

“Other states were carved or born,
Texas grew from hide and horn.”      
                       Berta Hart Nance, Texas poet

There he is: the cowboy - a silhouette against the setting sun. A shadow, atop his horse; the hat … the boots … the trademark spurs. And there, alongside, standing low and strong amid the grass, the Texas longhorn.

For more than a century - through novels, paintings, songs, and Hollywood movies - this image of the cowboy; it’s become part of us - our identity as Americans ... and as Texans.

Born from the Spanish and Mexican vaquero tradition, the modern cowboy image was born here, in the late 1800s, along a vast stretch of terrain known today as... the Chisholm Trail.

Between the 1860s and the 1880s, Texas cowboys took millions of cattle on a journey hundreds of miles… mostly to trail-heads and waiting railcars in Kansas - to ship ‘em back East to feed a growing America. The trail-ride took ‘em over the wide-open Texas wilderness… across rushing rivers … and through unruly Indian territories – a rugged three-month trip.

It meant big profits for Texas cattle barons; put food on the table for many a family; and paid for many a drink in the saloon.

Today, people still argue over the Chisholm Trail’s exact route - and even who it’s named after. It wasn’t the only great cattle trail: there was the Shawnee before it, and the Great Western after it. But none captured our imagination like the Chisholm.

In a way, the trail saved us. Texas was a destitute place after the Civil War; and the cattle drives gave us exactly the economic boon we needed. The economy of the Lone Star State was transformed - thanks to enterprising ranchers, nail-tough cowboys… and a whole lot of longhorns.

So saddle up; we’re about to take a trail ride through history - and meet the men and women who laid it all on the line to build a better life. Get ready to take a ride up an American legend – the one and only Chisholm Trail.