1-The Cattle Kingdom
Cattle ranching was important in the West’s changing economy. The open range provided a place where herds could graze free of charge with no boundaries. Mexican ranchers were the ones who developed the techniques and equipment that was later used by all ranchers and cowboys, including branding, roping saddles, chaps, spurs and roundups. Texas had the largest herds of cattle and their cattle came from good Spanish stock, as well as small muscular broncos or mustangs suited to cattle country. At the end of the Civil War, about 5 million cattle roamed the Texas ranges and early in 1866, some ranchers began driving their combined herds north to Sedalia, Missouri on the railroad. Due to hardships along the way, many cattle were lost, but the drive proved that it could be done and it laid the groundwork for the expansion of the “cattle kingdom.” Abiline Kansas reigned as the railroad of the cattle kingdom due to many market facilities there. Millions of cattle were driven up the Chisholm Trail to Abiline between 1867 and 1871, but shortly after that, agricultural development in western Kansas was taking much of the open range land. Cattleman had to develop other roads and other markets outlets farther west, in Kansas, Nebraska, Wyoming and Montana. The combined herds usually numbered two to six thousand head. Most of the cowboys in the early years had served in the Confederate army, the next largest group being African Americans. Ranches emerged next so that the cowboys had a base, starting small but eventually becoming larger due to competition of the farmers and breeders, raising their stock on their own fenced land. Farmers from the East, called Nesters, blocked trails and broke up the open range and a series of range wars broke out of the tension between compteting groups. This resulted in loss of life and property damage. After 2 severe winters and dry summers between 1885-1887, many ranches disappeared. The open range never recovered, the...
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