Explore the rich Texas history of ranch hands, cowboys and cattle on The Chisolm Trail—the greatest migration of livestock in world history. Revisit the tale of the trail by capturing a glimpse of the Texas cowboy way of life by visiting the Texas towns and countless museums that continue to pay homage to the trail and the cattle industry’s history. Here are some Texas towns that played a role in the Chisholm Trail.
Sitting on 825,000 acres, an area larger than Rhode Island, the King Ranch established a “cow camp” and quickly became one of the most influential ranches in the world. Today, the King Ranch is a National Historic Landmark and offers daily tours featuring the history of the ranch.
Nueces County began flourishing with more than 56,000 head of cattle and 10 meat-packing plants, making the coastal town of Corpus Christi the prominent gulf port that shipped cattle to New Orleans. Today, visitors can tour the Corpus Christi Museum of Science and History exhibits dedicated to their cattle and horse history.
Lockhart was where two herding routes converged and on some days, five to six thousand heads of cattle passed through this outpost. Today, on the second weekend of June, Lockhart celebrates the Chisholm Trail by hosting the Chisholm Trail Roundup, a four-day festival.
San Antonio became a gathering location for many herders starting their long journey. Trail drives were extremely important to the local economy. Both the Witte Museum and the Buckhorn Saloon and Museum provide artifacts and exhibits that give visitors an idea of the beginnings of Texas cowboy life.
Although herds traveling the trail did not cross directly through Austin, they did cross the Colorado River near Austin. After spending time herding cattle north, Col. Jesse Driskill settled in the metropolis of Austin, eventually purchasing an entire block for $7,500, where he opened The Driskill Hotel in 1886. The Driskill Hotel remains a legendary Texas landmark offering guests luxurious accommodations.
Herds typically continued north of Austin by crossing Brushy Creek in Round Rock near the famous circular limestone rock that marked the lower-water crossing for herders. Visitors to Round Rock can stop by Chisholm Trail Crossing Park, which includes various scenes of the city’s historical role in the Chisholm cattle drive.
Cattle herds crossed the Brazos River in Waco on their way to Kansas. In 1870, the Waco Suspension Bridge, a National Historic Landmark, provided a convenient, albeit costly, means for cattlemen to move herds across the Brazos. A sculpture of trail riders near the Waco Suspension Bridge still commemorates the famous Chisholm Trail.
Fort Worth, for many traveling the Chisholm Trail, was the last main stop to rest and refresh supplies along the route before heading into Native American territory. Today, the Fort Worth Stockyards, provide visitors with a glimpse of the past and a reminder of the industry that provided financial gains and adventure to so many throughout the state. Visitors will be transported back in time when watching the Fort Worth Herd, the world’s only twice daily cattle drive, held every day at 11:30 AM and 4:00 PM in the Fort Worth Stockyards.