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Old West Legends IconOLD WEST LEGENDS

The Goodnight-Loving Trail

American History on DVD - Vintage films Bookmark and Share

Spanning more than 2,000 miles from Texas to Wyoming, the trail was first blazed by Charles Goodnight and Oliver Loving in 1866. The trail runs from Young County, Texas, southwest to Horsehead Crossing on the Pecos River, then northwards to Fort Sumner, New Mexico, through Colorado and ends in Cheyenne, Wyoming.


The trail was first used when Goodnight, a former Texas Ranger and Indian Scout met pioneer cowboy, Oliver Loving sometime after the Civil War. At this time, the cattle markets were inadequate for the available cattle and the two wanted to capitalize on the need for cattle at Fort Sumner, New Mexico, where some 8,000 Indians had been settled on a reservation.


The drive would be a dangerous one, traveling across hostile Indian country, but the pair, with their combined skills, were dedicated and in June, 1866, they set out with some 2,000 head of cattle and 18 riders to blaze what would become known as the Goodnight-Loving Trail.


The Cattle Trail in 1905

The Goodnight-Loving Trail, was one of many

cattle trails in the American West.

This image available for photographic prints  and downloads HERE!


Oliver LovingThey left the Texas Frontier on June 6, 1866, with 2,000 head of mixed cattle and 18 armed men to blaze a trail that went down into history as the Goodnight-Loving Trail. Upon reaching Fort Sumner, they sold beef to the army for $12,000 in gold. Loving continued to drive the rest of the herd to Denver, while Goodnight returned to Texas for a second herd. The profitable venture led to more drives, including a partnership with John Chisum.  

However, in the summer of 1867, when Oliver Loving went ahead of the herd to negotiate contracts, taking only one trusted scout with him, he was attacked by Comanches and seriously wounded. Though he was able to reach Fort Sumner, New Mexico, he later died of his wounds on September 25, 1867. Goodnight continued the drive to Colorado, but later returned for Loving’s body and returned it to Texas, where he was buried in the Greenwood Cemetery in Weatherford.


Charles GoodnightIn the spring of 1868 Goodnight entered into a contract with John Wesley Iliff in which he agreed to deliver his cattle to to the Union Pacific Railroad town of Cheyenne, Wyoming. Goodnight traveled the trail a couple of times, straightening out the route along the way.


Goodnight then settled down on his Texas Ranch, but cattle drivers throughout Texas, New Mexico, and Colorado continued to utilize the trail that he and loving had blazed.









© Kathy Weiser/Legends of America, January, 2008.


Cattle Round-up.

Watching over the herd.

This image available for photographic prints HERE!


Also See:


Charles Goodnight - Blazing a Cattle Trail 

Oliver Loving - Pioneer Cowboy

Loving's Bend - A 1910 Account

Tales & Trails of the American West



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