Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Texas Cattle Quarantined...!

The days of long trail drives to Kansas came to an end with the quarantine of Texas cattle.

There had been a call, by farmers mainly, to stop the cattle drives for some time. This is how it all came about.

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.

The rail heads coming to Texas sure made a difference for the cattle business in Texas, but it also marked the beginning of the end for the cowboy. Gotta take the bad with the good, I reckon.

Coffee out on the patio again this morning!


linda m said...

The Cattle Drive was romanticized by Hollywood. I can't imagine anyone wanting such a job these days. And I don't blame the people of Kansas for wanting to stop the cattle drives thru their property. The railroad was the end of an era as well as the beginning of an era. Great story this morning. Sun is out, cold and windy, but no more snow.

taminator013 said...

At least it also spawned some great TV Westerns about the era. My wife and I watch "Rawhide" reruns every Saturday afternoon at 3:00. One of her all time favorite shows. Yeah, we're old and remember it when it was originally broadcast.............

JO said...

I had never read about this before great history lesson.

I'm ready for coffee on the patio, still a little to nippy around here but the days sure are warming way to fast for me.

HermitJim said...

Hey Linda...
It certainly wasn't a job that I would want. Glad that the sun is finally shining for ya!
Thanks for stopping by this morning!

Hey Terminator...
Dizzy also watches some of the older shows and seems to be very fond of them. I can also remember the show when it was first on, but I'm old as well!
Thanks for coming over today!

HermitJim said...

Hey Jo...
I'm always ready to share these little tidbits of info with ya, sweetie!
Thanks for dropping by this morning!