Although Civil War devastated the country’s economy, Texas had a valuable resource with millions of longhorn cattle roaming wild across the Texas plains.
In the two decades following the Civil War, great herds of these longhorn cattle were rounded up and driven north to the railheads in Kansas. Worth only about a dollar a head in Texas, a single longhorn could command a price of about forty dollars in the northeastern markets. Described as the greatest migration of livestock in the history of the world, more than six million longhorns made the three-month trek north, and the profit from the cattle revitalized the Texas economy after the war.
Benefiting greatly from the cattle drives, Fort Worth provided a final opportunity for drovers to purchase supplies before venturing out onto the five hundred miles of unsettled wilderness that extended to Abilene, Kansas. Upon their return, Fort Worth offered the first chance to rest and spend some of their hard earned pay.