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On the cattle Trail.
Texas cattle were no longer allowed to be
shipped northward, effectively cutting off the income and much of the
economy of the
Confederate state of
Texas. When the war was finally
over, this policy had led to a large abundance of
Texas cattle, as
well as a pent-up demand for beef in the northern states.
ranchers were only too happy to meet the demand.
Immediately following the war, a number of
Kansas cowtowns began to
spring up along the developing railheads. Beginning in
and expanding westward along with the railroad to
Dodge City, these cities all developed a
reputation as wild and wooly frontier towns. Secondary cattle markets
Great Bend, Hays,
and Junction City also achieved periods of brief success as cowtowns.
Meeting the demands of the many
cowboys coming off the Chisholm
Trail, dance halls and
which almost always featured gambling, were fixtures in these
Kansas cowtowns. Brothels and
prostitution were another business that excelled with the high percentage
of men arriving and very few women to accommodate them. The towns grew
quickly, often levying taxes on the vices provided to the
liquor, gambling and prostitution. They also quickly grew reputations that
were described as "wicked, decadent, evil, and lawless.”
Between the years of 1865 and 1885, hundreds of
Texas Longhorns were driven to these shipping points.
However, by the mid-1880's, a number of events ended the cattle drive era
Kansas. Most prominently was the arrival of the railroad into
but also factoring in, were quarantine laws and homesteaders that closed
of much of the open range. But the cattle business in
Kansas did not end.
By 1890, the state ranked third in the nation in cattle production. As to
the cowtowns themselves, most moved into a quieter existence becoming
peaceable agricultural communities.
It was here in these cowtowns that
Old West characters gained or bolstered their reputations, men
Wild Bill Hickok,
Wesley Hardin, and dozens of others. In these wild frontier towns also
occurred some of the most famous
gunfights of the American West including
Dalton Gang Shoot-Out in
Hide Park Gunfight in
Long Branch Saloon Shootout
already existed before it became a cowtown. In 1857, it was established as a
stagecoach stop and was officially laid out in 1860. However, it retained a
sleepy existence until a livestock dealer from Illinois, named Joseph G. McCoy
saw Abilene as the
perfect place for a railhead from which to ship cattle from in 1867.
The city soon filled with not only
but also gamblers,
prostitutes. By 1870, it had become so lawless, that
Abilene hired its first marshal, Thomas Smith, whose first official act was
to issue an order that no one would be allowed to carry firearms within the city
limits without a permit. However, Smith was killed in the line of duty before
the year ended. The next year,
Hickok became the city's marshal.
reigned supreme as the Queen of
cowtowns until new railheads in
became the favored shipping points in 1872. During its four year reign, over 3
million head of cattle were driven up the
Trail and shipped from
Springs - The first
cowtown to develop was Baxter Springs, in the corner of southeast
1865, after the war was over, a town was laid out on 80 acres by Captain
M. Mann and J. J. Barnes and soon thereafter
Baxter Springs became an outlet for the
Texas cattle trade. As
Missouri became off-limits for
Texas cattle due to quarantines,
Baxter Springs welcomed them to
Kansas. The community built stockyards with corrals capable of holding
20,000 cattle and provided range land with plenty of grass and water.
Though the town took on all the appearances of prosperity, it also
inherited a reputation for being one of the wildest cowtowns in the West.
Baxter Springs remained cattle outlet through the 1870’s as the herds
were driven up the Old Shawnee Trail.
Brookville - When the
Pacific Railroad arrived in 1870, the town served briefly as a cattle
shipping area. It soon boasted 800 people, a bank, a newspaper, telegraph
and express offices, and a post office, as well as a few other businesses.
is a virtual
with just about 200 people and no open businesses.
for the cattle market in the 1880's,
was known as the "Border Queen," for her location near the
border. Situated along the
catered to the many
who passed by with their large cattle herds on their way to
Wichita even before the town became a shipping point itself. However, in
1879, the Santa Fe Railroad extended its line to
Caldwell , and the town found itself in the middle of the cattle trade. In
no time, it sprouted
saloons, gambling dens, and brothels, providing a place where the
could go wild after months on the dusty and treacherous trail.
showdowns, general hell raising and hangings soon became commonplace.
Coffeyville - As early as 1803 the present site of
Coffeyville was occupied by the Black Dog band of
who roamed this part of
buffalo. The site was first settled by white men in 1869 when Colonel
James A. Coffey established an
Trading Post. News of the trading post spread quickly through the tribes
living southward in
and the business thrived. Soon a number of settlers came to the area and
the new town that formed around the trading post was called
in the Colonel's honor.
A town was officially formed with the arrival of the
Lawrence & Galveston railroad in 1871. It soon became yet another one of
Texas cattleman used it as a shipping point.
dance halls and gambling places multiplied as the city served three major
rail lines. Soon it took on the name of "Cow Town" due to its shipping
point status and the large number of cattle grazing the open range
surrounding the town. Once the railheads moved to
Coffeyville settled down, that least until the famous
Raid in 1892. Probably the best-known incident in
history, the event occurred when the
Dalton Gang tried to rob two banks simultaneously, but were instead,
surprised by local citizens and police officers who fought back. All the
members of the
Dalton Gang were killed with the exception of Emmett Dalton, who
amazingly survived with 23 gunshot wounds. Three citizens, including a
U.S. Marshal, Marshal Charles T. Connelly, died in defense of the town.
Toward the end of the 19th
continued to grow as a trading center and prosperous farming region. In
1900, the town progressed into manufacturing and by 1915 it had grown to a
population of nearly 19,000 residents. However, when the plants started
closing, people moved on. Today the town supports about 10,000 souls.
Continued Next Page
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