Missouri and Ozarks History

Information and comments about historical people and events of Missouri, the Ozarks region, and surrounding area.

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Location: Missouri

I'm a freelance writer specializing in the history of the Ozarks and surrounding region. I've written sixteen nonfiction books, two historical novels, and numerous articles. My latest books are Wicked Women of Missouri, Yanked Into Eternity: Lynchings and Hangings in Missouri, and Show-Me Atrocities: Infamous Incidents in Missouri History.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Ozarks Cattle Drives

When people think of Old West cattle drives in which Texas longhorns were herded to northern markets, they normally think of towns in Kansas like Dodge City, Wichita, and Abilene as the primary destinations for the cattle. The western Kansas cow towns were, in fact, the main shipping points after about 1867. Prior to that date, though, St. Louis, Sedalia, and Kansas City, Missouri were the primary destinations, and the old cattle trails criss-crossed the Ozarks.
Prior to the Civil War and during the first year after the war, the Shawnee Trail through eastern Indian Territory (now Oklahoma) was the main cattle trail from Texas. Fifty miles or so below the Kansas state line, one branch of the trail veered eastward and roughly followed the Old Wire Road to St. Louis. Near Baxter Springs, at the edge of the Ozarks, another branch veered northeastward to Sedalia, while the third branch continued north toward Kansas City, following the Military Road that connected Fort Leavenworth and Fort Gibson (in Indian Territory).
During the first year after the war, Baxter Springs became a stopover point for the herds being driven north. Thus was born the "first cow town in Kansas," a title that Baxter lays claim to today.

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