Cattle Kingdom

In the decades after the Civil War the cattle industry skyrocketed as the 5 million some head of cattle that were in Texas could now be easily herded and sold.. However due to lack of Transportation in the territory at the time, the cattle had to be herded over the hundreds of mile by way of the Cowboys to Kansas, Nebraska, Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, and the Dakotas. These massive cattle runs thats gave Cowboys thier name came to be known as the Long Drive.

The Long Driveexternal image pod0104.jpg

The Long Drive coincided with the expansion of the railroads. As the railheads expanded so did the drop off places for the Cattle runs. There were several known trails for the Long Drive, the most famous of which was probaly the Chisholm Trail Which went from San Antonio to Albenine, Kansas. Also, the Western Trail went to Dodge City while the Goodknight-Loving Trail which went into New Mexico and Colorado. These trails were usally about 800 miles long and took about two months to traverse.

The Price of Cattle

The Cattle was a very profitable industry as a ten dollar cow in Texas could be sold for three or four times that in one of the various cow towns in Kansas. Operating costs were low since it only took about a dozen cowboys to handle a couple thousand heads of longhorn cattle. This caused a lot of investment by forign investors in the cattle industry. Two of the largest cattle ranches were, in fact, the
Anglo-American Cattle Company from England and the Prairie Cattle Company from Scotland.

The Life of the Cowboy

The Cowboys themselves were glorified by Holywood and literature today. Most Cowboys did not make cattle driving their main occupation. Most only did it for about two years before moving on to bigger and better things. A cowboys life was not great and they were paid only about 25 - 40 dollars a month. Some went on strike in Wyoming and Texas demanding higher wages. Most cowboys were white but about twenty percent of ranch hands were African or Mexican-Americans known as "vaqueros". Many techniques for cow handling came from these mexican counterparts of theirs.
John Wayne the American
John Wayne the American
You must be this badass to sport a poncho
You must be this badass to sport a poncho

Range Wars

Unfortunatly war was inevitable as ranchers who fenced off their property with barbed wire started fighing for control of territory and water sources. Also shepherds, whose sheep had been known for eating grass so low that cows couldn't graze there, were attacked by angry ranchers. Also, Bigger cow companys would attack smaller ones. The Johnson County War was a war in which the Wyoming Stock Association hired gunmen to take out smaller companies accused of stealing cattle.

The Fall of the Cattle Kingdom

Massive Cattle Ranching came to an end in the 1880s. Because of the profitability of cattle ranching, cowherds were encouraged to increase their stock and size of their herds. This led to overgrazing and overproduction. As with all over produced things it caused the price to go down and combined with over grazing and blizzards everything went bad for the cattle ranchers. After that cattle herders reduced their herds down to a more manageable sizes of about 200.
The King of the Cattle Kingdom
The King of the Cattle Kingdom