Texas ranchers were sending their cattle back east before the Civil War, but the great cattle trails emerged after Gulf Coast ports were blockaded by the Union. Perhaps the most famous of these is the Chisholm Trail established just after the war. Its fame is due in large part to the song “The Old Chisholm Trail.” Starting near Jesse Chisholm’s trading post outside San Antonio, not far from the Red River that runs the length of Texas, the trail made its way north to Abilene, Kansas. The route would currently take about 11 hours of driving to complete, along the way passing through Austin
, Temple, Waco, Fort Worth, and Denton, before heading north through Oklahoma City and Wichita, Kansas. Near the southern end of the trail, the Chisholm Trail Heritage Museum sits in the town of Cuero, in one of Texas’s top cattle producing counties. The museum provides a window on the past with its displays covering the days of the great cattle drives while preserving the stately former Knights of Pythias Hall, built in 1903, which now serves as the museum’s home (and is seen here in a photo from around 1910).