Goodnight-Loving Trail was first blazed by Charles
Goodnight and Oliver Loving
in 1866 to sell cattle to the U.S. Government at Fort Sumner, New Mexico.
Ultimately the trail ran from Young County,
southwest to Horsehead Crossing on the Pecos River, then northwards to
ending in Cheyenne,
Goodnight, a former
Scout met pioneer cowboy, Oliver Loving
sometime after the
At this time, the cattle markets were inadequate for the available cattle
and the two wanted to capitalize on the need for cattle at
where some 8,000
Navajo had been settled at the
Redondo reservation. Bad planning by the government for provisions at
the reservation led to an urgent need for food supplies.
The drive would be a dangerous one, traveling across hostile
country, but the pair, with their combined skills, were dedicated, and
on June 6, 1866 they set out with some 2,000 head of Texas Longhorns
and 18 cowhand's from Fort Belknap, Texas.
Sumner, they sold beef
to the army for eight cents per pound, or about $12,000 in gold.
The army was only interested in the steers, leaving the pair with 800
stocker cattle. While
Goodnight returned to
Texas for a
second herd, Loving drove the remaining cattle north, paying
Lacy Wootton ten cents a head to go on his toll road through
on his way to Denver, Colorado. He sold the remaining herd to cattle
rancher John Wesley Iliff. This profitable venture led to more drives, including a
A map of western cattle trails, with the Goodnight-Loving trail as the
westernmost. Click to enlarge.
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
his injuries resulted in gangrene in his arm and it had to be
amputated. He died from complications from the procedure on September 25, 1867.
Goodnight continued the drive to
Colorado, but later returned for Loving’s
body and brought it back to
where he was buried in the Greenwood Cemetery in Weatherford.
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,
Goodnight traveled the trail a
couple of times, straightening out the route along the way and avoiding
having to pay the toll at Raton Pass.
then settled down on his
Ranch, but cattle drivers throughout
continued to utilize the trail that he and loving had blazed, and cattle
ranches stocked with Texas Longhorns sprung up across Wyoming, with
several Texas companies relocating or starting subsidiaries there.
of America, last updated June 2015.
Charles Goodnight - Blazing
a Cattle Trail
Oliver Loving - Pioneer Cowboy
- A 1910 Account
Tales & Trails of the American West
Trailblazers Photo Print Gallery