Chisholm Trail, route over which vast herds of cattle were driven from Texas to the railheads in Kansas after the Civil War. Its name is generally believed to come from Jesse Chisholm, a part-Cherokee trader who, in the spring of 1866, drove his wagon, heavily loaded with buffalo hides, through the Indian Territory that is now Oklahoma to his trading post near Wichita, Kans., the wheels cutting deep ruts in the prairie. These marked a route followed for almost two decades by traders and by drovers bringing cattle to shipping points and markets in Kansas. Hundreds of thousands of Texas longhorns were driven north annually, following the Eastern and Western trails in Texas to the Chisholm Trail, which became celebrated in frontier lore and cowboy ballads. With the development of railroads and the introduction of wire fencing, the trail fell into disuse, although traces of it can still be seen.
See studies by W. Gard (1954) and B. J. Fletcher (1968).
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.