Wednesday, February 11, 2015

The Kansas Quarantine Of Texas Cattle...!

This was probably one of the final straws in the long cattle drives from Texas to Kansas. It marked the virtual end of long drives and the demise of the cattle business as it wa known.

There is no doubt that the completion of the rail lines into the cattle lands of Texas made the long and dangerous cattle drives unnecessary. Just another end of an era, I think.

Mar 7, 1885:
Kansas quarantines Texas cattle

The Kansas legislature passes a law barring Texas cattle from the state between March 1 and December 1, the latest action reflecting the love-hate relationship between Kansas and the cattle industry.

Texans had adopted the practice of driving cattle northward to railheads in Kansas shortly after the Civil War. From 1867 to 1871, the most popular route was the legendary Chisholm Trail that ran from San Antonio to Abilene, Kansas. Attracted by the profits to be made providing supplies to ranchers and a good time to trail-weary cowboys, other struggling Kansas frontier towns maneuvered to attract the Texas cattle herds. Dodge City, Caldwell, Ellsworth, Hays, and Newton competed with Abilene to be the top "Cow Town" of Kansas.

As Kansas lost some of its Wild West frontier edge, though, the cowboys and their cattle became less attractive. Upstanding town residents anxious to attract investment capital and nurture local businesses became increasingly impatient with rowdy young cowboys and their messy cattle. The new Kansas farmers who were systematically dividing the open range into neat rectangles of crops were even less fond of the cattle herds. Although the cowboys attempted to respect farm boundaries, stray cattle often wreaked havoc with farmers' crops. "There was scarcely a day when we didn't have a row with some settler," reported one cowboy.

Recognizing that the future of the state was in agriculture, the Kansas legislature attempted to restrict the movement of Texas cattle. In 1869, the legislature excluded cattle entirely from the east-central part of the state, where farmers were settling most quickly. Complaints from farmers that the Texas cattle were giving their valuable dairy cows tick fever and hoof-and-mouth disease eventually led to even tighter controls. On this day in 1885, the Kansas legislature enacted a strict quarantine. The quarantine closed all of Kansas to Texan cattle for all but the winter months of December, January, and February-the time of the year when the diseases were not as prevalent.

These laws signaled the end of the Kansas role in the Texas cattle industry. The open range was rapidly closing, hemmed in by miles and miles of barbed wire fence. With the extension of rail lines into Texas itself, the reason for making the long drives north to Kansas began to disappear by the late 1880s anyway. The Kansas quarantine laws became irrelevant as most Texans could more easily ship cattle via railheads in their own states.

I'd be willing to bet that the cattle had a lot more meat on their bones when shipped from the Texas railheads. Probably made the price of steaks a little better as well!

Coffee out on the patio again this morning. OK with you?


Rob said...

Good story! Funny, I seems to have a mental block when it comes to thinking of Kansas as the 'west' no matter how many times I remind myself that Dodge City & Abilene are in Kansas. I think I watched too many westerns on TV & I expect hills... or something other than Kansas!

Coffee outside would be nice.

Dizzy-Dick said...

Although that was a very short period of history, it is the most glamorized on TV and in movies. What I hate is inaccurate portrayals of an area. I was watching a western on TV and they portrayed Cut and Shoot, Texas as being in the desert. I live in Cut and Shoot and it is in the piney woods.

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Judy said...

Jim, they actually drove the cattle very slowly so they could fatten the cattle up on the trip. There is a lot of great grazing between Texas and Kansas. As you know, most cattle drives are now done with Tractor-trailers full of calves. Ah, the smell of 10-15 truck loads of calves on a spring morning waiting for the rancher to come to town to lead the trucks out to the pasture for a summer of grazing.

HermitJim said...

Hey Rob...
I think that's a common mistake. I do the same thing.

Thanks for stopping by today!

Hey Dizzy...
Funny how that works, isn't it?

I asked my dad a long time ago why it was called Cut and Shoot, and he said we would have to go there on a Saturday night to understand! That was long ago.

Thanks for stopping by!

Hey Judy...
At least we don't have to be the ones to clean out the trailers, right?

Thanks, my friend, for coming by today!