Fort Worth celebrates the
of the Chisholm Trail
In 2017 Fort Worth marks the 150th anniversary of the Chisholm Trail, which brought cattle drives to the area and spurred the city’s early growth.
We invite you to help celebrate this important part of our heritage with special exhibitions, programs and events throughout the year.
The Chisholm Trail route was used in the post-Civil War era to drive cattle in Texas to Kansas railheads. Fort Worth was the last stop for rest and supplies on the Chisholm Trail. Between 1866-1890, drovers (cowboys) trailed more than four million head of cattle through Fort Worth.
Anniversary Events & Exhibitions
We invite you to help celebrate this important part of our heritage with special exhibitions, programs and events throughout the year. Use the arrows to discover upcoming events, or click a venue or event below.
January – December 2017
With particular focus art works by the two greatest artists of the American West, Frederic Remington and Charles M. Russell, the Amon Carter Museum of American Art will have an on-site, self-guided feature of trail-themed artworks in the iconic American art collection.
The Amon Carter Museum library will have a spotlight mini-exhibition featuring photographs of range life by cowboy photographer Erwin E. Smith; Richard Haas’s preparatory drawing of the Chisolm Trail mural that is featured today in Sundance Square; and rarely-seen artifacts from our archives relating to the historic cattle industry in Texas.
Throughout the year, the Amon Carter offers Distance Learning videoconference programs that bring the museum into classrooms throughout the United States. One particular program — “Cowboy Close-Up” — uses the photographs of Erwin E. Smith and the paintings and sculpture of Frederic Remington and Charles M. Russell to tell the story of the American cowboy during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Contact the museum for more information about programs or scheduling: firstname.lastname@example.org or 817.989.5038.
Re-opening May 2017
The newly renovated Cattle Raisers Museum tells the entire story of cattle raising and stewardship in the Southwest - with particular attention paid to the cattle trails. As an added bonus and as part of the Museum's renovation, a digital storytelling platform features Red Steagall, the great American Storyteller and Poet Laureate of Texas for 2006. Red sings a few verses of The Old Chisholm Trail and discusses its origins which dates back to the 1780's and was one known by most cowboys who worked the Trail.
125th Anniversary Archives Exhibition at the Fort Worth Central Library
April 17 – July 6, 2017
The Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth was founded in 1892 by a group of 25 women with a goal of introducing culture to the city and was originally chartered as the Fort Worth Public Library and Art Gallery. In 1954, a separate institution was established as the Fort Worth Art Center. The Modern Art Museum’s present name and mission were adopted in 1987. This exhibit celebrates 125 years of art in Fort Worth. On display in the West Wing of the Central Library from Apr. 17 - Jul. 6.
Frontier Forts Muster in the Stockyards National Historic District
May 12 and 13, 2017
Frontier Forts Muster website
During this free, two-day heritage event, the Stockyards National Historic District is transformed into an authentic representation of Texas frontier life. The Texas Forts Days Celebration was created in 2001 to celebrate the heritage of Texas’s Frontier fort settlements, like Fort Worth, concentrating on the years from the early Republic in 1836 to the closing of the frontier and settlement of the late 1800s. Events include a military parade and tribute to the 150th anniversary of the Chisolm Trail.
The National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame is the only museum in the world dedicated to honoring trailblazing women of the American West. Its multimedia exhibits and historic photographs, papers, clothing, spurs and saddles tell the inspiring stories of remarkable women pioneers, ranchers, performers and rodeo stars.
“Handbook of the West” Scavenger Hunt
June 1-30, 2017
Introduce your little ones to the fascinating history of Fort Worth with this fun-filled scavenger hunt across the city. Simply pick up your packet at the National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame, and then off you go to uncover items from the Sid Richardson Museum, Amon Carter Museum of American Art and the Fort Worth Herd. Once your booklet is complete, return it to the Museum for a prize! Activities are targeted at elementary aged children, though, all are welcome to join in on the fun.
Spirit of the Trail
Opens June 1st and will run Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays until July 9th. Every day except Sunday will be at 7:30 and Sundays will be at 3:00. The first weekend will be at National Cowgirl Museum with the remaining shows running at the Texas Cowboy Hall of Fame.
As part of the Chisolm Trail 150 Celebration, Orchard Theatre of Texas will present Spirit of the Trail, a musical celebration of the heart and soul of the trail. Spirit of the Trail will feature a spirited musical mix performed by a talented cast. You'll hear traditional cowboy favorites along with tunes from Broadway and movies, as well as new music by up and coming artists redefining the pioneer spirit. Spirit of the Trail promises to present a tuneful new take on life on the trail and its continuing effect in popular culture.
A historical reenactment of the original Pawnee Bill’s Wild West Show. The show features trick roping, trick shooting, trick riding, cowboy songs and an entertaining look at history. Historical figures such as Pawnee Bill come to life and transport the spectator back in time. The shows are based on actual events and stunts that occurred in the original Pawnee Bill’s Wild West Show that toured the country some ninety years ago. The Pawnee Bill’s Wild West Show was first held in Fort Worth’s Cowtown Coliseum in 1909.
Hide & Horn on the Chisholm Trail
January 6, 2017 through August 28, 2017
The Sid Richardson Museum welcomes sought-after collector’s items from the cattle trail era as “guests of honor” in “Hide & Horn on the Chisholm Trail.”
In celebration of the 150th Anniversary of the Chisholm Trail, the Museum will display an 1872 lithograph map illustrating cattle trails from Texas to Kansas; an 1873 guide book containing descriptions of the trail route for trail drivers, informing drivers of distances, streams, crossings, camping grounds, wood and water, and supply stores from the Red River crossing to cities in Kansas; and, one of the most comprehensive 19th-century books on the early history of the range cattle industry, all on loan from the Rees-Jones Collection.
Teen's Talk: Learning from Artists (Ages 13-17)
Saturday, April 1, 2017 at 1 p.m.
Cost: Free (registration required)
The Sid Richardson Museum’s Teens’ Talk program is a fantastic opportunity for teens to learn from artists first-hand! Join us as we learn about Richard Haas, the muralist who painted Sundance Square’s iconic Chisholm Trail mural! Teens will investigate the large outdoor artwork in Sundance Square, learn more about working on large scale art projects, and will have a chance to create a mural concept of their own! For information, contact Andrea Hassenteuffel, Director of Family Programs, Andrea@SidRichardsonMuseum.org.
Lecture, “The Importance of the Chisholm Trail to Fort Worth and Texas” (Adults)
Friday, April 7, 2017 from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m.
Cost: Free (registration required)
After the Civil War, cowhands herded more than six million cattle out of Texas up to northern markets. Running from South Texas to Abilene, Kansas, the Chisholm Trail was one of the great cattle drive routes. Join the Sid Richardson Museum as we celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Chisholm Trail. Historians Dr. Doug Harman and Steve Myers will explore the history and folklore associated with the legendary trail, including its connection to Fort Worth. For information, contact Leslie Thompson, Director of Adult Programs, lthompson@SidRichardsonMuseum.org.
Friday and Saturday nights at 8 p.m.
Every Friday and Saturday night at 8:00 p.m. the Stockyards Championship Rodeo at Cowtown Coliseum in the Stockyards National Historic District, features bull riding, barrel racing, calf roping and more.
Take a relaxing horseback ride down the old Chisholm Trail. The ride leaves the Stockyards National Historic District along a portion of the original Chisholm Trail, along the Trinity River with a beautiful view of the Fort Worth skyline.
Books that Cook Presents: Cowboy Cooking
June 22 at 6 p.m.
Fort Worth Public Library Foundation
500 W. 3rd St. Fort Worth, TX
More information on Facebook
Cowboy Cooking, happening at 6 p.m., June 22, is the next installment in its Books That Cook series, the Fort Worth Public Library Foundation announced today. A panel of three local cowboy cookbook author/chef/restaurateurs offer their expertise and thoughts on cooking in wild West Texas. Mike Micallef, Tom Perini and Lou Lambert are multi-faceted talents who enjoy cooking and each other's company, promising this is a night to remember!
Explore the Trail
Memories of the historic Chisholm Trail can be found throughout the city. Use the arrows to check out these landmarks, attractions and points of interest in Sundance Square, Downtown, the Stockyards National Historic District, the Cultural District and the Near Southside.
Top Ten Things
to know about the Chisholm Trail
Use the arrows to get up to speed on interesting facts, larger than life personalities and the folklore of the Chisholm Trail.
1. What is a cattle drive?
It is the movement of cattle to from one location to another, generally for purpose of selling cattle and/or moving cattle to other pastures. The most famous large cattle drives were from Texas to Kansas after the Civil War.
2. What was the route of the Chisholm Trail?
The cattle taken along the Chisholm Trail came from South Texas toward San Antonio and straight north past Belton, Waco, and Fort Worth before crossing the Red River.
3. Who was Jesse Chisholm?
Chisholm (1805 – 1868) was an important trader and plainsman of Scottish and Cherokee background. He was fluent in 14 Native American languages, and was important in many treaties between Native American tribes and governments. His trading route was used by cattle drives and the Chisholm Trail name was taken on for the length of this cattle trail.
4. What were the various names for the Chisholm Trail?
According to the Texas Historical Commission, the Chisholm Trail had various other names, including the McCoy Trail, the Great Texas Trail, the Cattle Trail, the Eastern Trail, and the Kansas Trail.
5. What is the trail name controversy?
Some people assert that the Chisholm Trail was not in Texas and that it only started in Oklahoma. However, according to the Texas Historical Commission, in common usage, the name Chisholm Trail was applied to extensions of the original Jesse Chisholm Trail both to the north and to the south the length of Texas. The major books on the Chisholm Trail by Wayne Gard and Don Worcester also take this position on the name of the trail in Texas. In addition, the federal legislation directing the study of the Chisholm Trail and Western Trail also take this view of the appropriate name in Texas.
6. Where did the trail come through Fort Worth?
Many of the trail drives came through downtown Fort Worth along the street now named Commerce Street and bedded down the cattle north of downtown into the Stockyards. The trail drover purchased supplies in Fort Worth before going further north.
7. Who was Joseph McCoy?
Joseph McCoy (1837 – 1915), a cattle trader, was largely responsible for creating the Chisholm Trail. He convinced a railroad exte nsion to Abilene, Kansas where he developed cattle pins needed to put the cattle on rail cars. He then promoted the route taken by the trail drivers.
8. Why was it necessary to take the cattle to Kansas?
Millions of cattle running wild in Texas after the civil war were worth only $2 or a head or less in Texas but worth $15 to $25 a head if taken to a railhead in Kansas. The money from the sale of cattle in Kansas was responsible for bringing Texas out of economic depression after the Civil War.
9. How many cattle traveled along the Chisholm Trail?
From the start of the trail drives in 1867 to 1871, over one million longhorns were taken to the Kansas railhead. It is estimated that 10 million longhorns went up the Chisholm and the Western Trail before new rail lines to Texas made the long trail drives no longer necessary.
10. How large were the individual trail drives?
The typical herd going up the trail included approximately 2,500 cattle, 10 to 12 cowboys, a remuda of extra horses, and a chuck wagon for food and gear.
Tour Texas Along the Trail
Texas Holiday Travel offers a complete Chisholm Trail itinerary. Begin your journey where it all started and explore major Texas cities along the way. The Texas Holiday Travel tour will take you Corpus Christi, San Antonio, Austin, Fort Worth, Waco and more. Click here to take a glimpse at what the tour offers.