Oklahoma Third District Congressman Frank Lucas and fellow Republican Ron Estes of Kansas introduced legislation on April 15 to add the Chisholm and Western Trails to the National Trails System.
“As our country expanded westward, the Chisholm Trail and the Western Trail became critical lifelines for the people of the Great Plains. Cattle ranchers across Western Oklahoma have always played an integral part throughout Oklahoma’s history, establishing a number of local economies across the Plains through trade and transportation,” said Congressman Lucas. “Designating these trails as historic trails will not only preserve the significance of these trails in Oklahoma and across the Great Plains, but it will also allow us to continue to educate future generations of Americans and provide countless economic opportunities across Oklahoma.”
“When we think about advances that moved our country forward, the Chisholm and Western Trails are two of those elements that helped shape the midwestern economy – with millions of cattle traveling through the Great Plains,” said Rep. Estes. “Farmers and ranchers from Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas and Nebraska have always been a critical part of this country, and the cowboy culture that was evident on the Chisholm and Western Trails are at the very heart of who we are as Americans – hard-working, rugged and independent. Designating these trails is more than just noting paths through the Great Plains, but showcasing the historical significance of the people who traveled the more than 1,300 miles through multiple states, and their way of life.”
One of the most famous of the 19th century cattle drive trails, the Western Trail followed present day Main Street in Vernon into what is now Oklahoma, crossing north at Doan’s Crossing, and continued to the Washita River near Butler and then to the North Canadian at May.
The Chisholm Trail was used by traders but quickly became the route for moving thousands of cattle moving from south Texas to the railheads in Kansas. It crossed the Red River south of present-day Duncan and proceeded north through the vicinity of El Reno and Enid.