I drove the Chisholm Trail from Fort Worth, TX, to Abilene, KS, with stops in Oklahoma.
Texas Travel Talk is talking about the Chisholm Trail drive from Fort Worth, Texas, to Abilene, KS, to see the wild west sights along the trail. Follow me as I road trip from my starting point in Fort Worth to Abilene, KS, where the Chisholm Trail ended.
I drove the Chisholm Trail from Fort Worth, TX, through Oklahoma to Abilene, KS.
Disclosure: Visit Abilene, Kansas, hosted and compensated me on this trip. All opinions are mine alone.
Chisholm Trail: Texas To Abilene, KS
This was an event made in history from the trail boss, the cook, the drovers (cowboys), wranglers, and longhorns to the cattle drovers’ trail, aka Chisholm Trail itself. It all goes down in our history books in Texas, Oklahoma, & Kansas.
The 19th-century cattle drovers’ trail (1867 to 1871) in the western United States called the Chisholm Trail is a guess on the exact route. We know it originated south of San Antonio, Texas, ran north across Oklahoma, and ended at Abilene, Kansas. Many historians have their own story of how it all went down. I’m not here to tell how it all happened because its early history is unknown. I have outlined a few facts below that I have researched.
“The Chisholm Trail was not the longest cattle trail but probably became the most famous because of the song “The Old Chisholm Trail”:
”Come along boys and listen to my tale, I’ll tell you of my troubles on the old Chisholm Trail. Come a ti yi yippee, come a ti, yi, yea.””
I can’t begin to rewrite the story, but you can get so much from reading about the Chisholm Trail – Kansaspedia.
About Abilene, Kansas
Abilene, KS, is a small town in Central Kansas that boasts much history for all travelers. From the home of our 34th President, where the Chisholm Trail ended, to being awarded the Best Small Town To Visit, the #1 True Western Town of the Year, the #2 Best Historic Small Town, and more, Abilene, KS, has it all. I do recommend taking a family road trip up there very soon!
Chisholm Trail Facts
- From the start of the trail drives in the late 1800s, it’s estimated that 10 million longhorns went up the Chisholm Trail to the Kansas Railhead.
- It took 10-12 cowboys to work a cattle drive of 2500 cattle.
- It took Drovers three months to go from the beginning to the end.
- REV Drives included cowboys who were Black, Native American, Mexican, and Caucasian who worked to efficiently and profitably move the herds north.
- Each cattle drive also took extra horses, a chuck wagon full of food and gear, several longhorns, and a few drovers (cowboys) who walked to help lead the cattle drive.
- Cattle drives had specific names – McCoy Trail, the Great Texas Trail, the Cattle Trail, the Eastern Trail, the Kansas Trail, and the Chisholm Trail.
- Wild cattle in Texas were worth $2 or less per head but worth $15 to $25 in Kansas. That’s why they went that far.
- There were several reasons the Chisholm Trail ended in Abilene, KS. But the main reason is the railroad. In 1871, when railroads came to town, the cattle drive to Abilene ended. The railroad became how cattle were taken to Kansas from then on.
Bonus for Fort Worth: A herd of cattle comes through the Fort Worth Stockyard every day at 11 am and 4 pm as a resemblance to the 1800s cattle drive.
Chisholm Trail Drive: Texas
This Chisholm Trail started in Texas, possibly in Brownsville, which is south of San Antonio, almost to the Mexico border. This article begins in Fort Worth, moves toward Bowie, TX, into Oklahoma, and onto Abilene, KS, where the trail drives ended.
Stops along the way include must-see museums, murals, and Chisholm Trail markers. If you love Fort Worth, Texas, you’ll love Abilene, Kansas!
What’s The Driving Distance From Fort Worth to Abilene, KS?
It takes about 450 miles to drive from Fort Worth to Abilene, KS, on the Chisholm Trail.
How To Get There
From Fort Worth, the Chisolm Trail went northwest to Decatur, TX, and Bowie, TX, then continued over the Red River into Oklahoma Indian Territory. The cattle drive then went north to the railhead in Abilene, Kansas. A long way from where you can road trip from Fort Worth To Abilene, KS, today on I-35, but you wouldn’t get to stop into the beautiful museums in Oklahoma if you didn’t go this way.
Before heading out on your Texas road trip, stop at the Stockyards Museum at 131 E. Exchange Ave. in the Fort Worth Stockyards to see the display on the Chisholm Trail.
When you stop in Bowie, TX, there is a park (maybe) on the left with a large display sign about the trail that you can read and this marker where you can take your photo …and have all the passersby honk at you!
Chisholm Trail Drive: Oklahoma
Top stops along the way from Fort Worth to Abilene, KS, in Oklahoma consist of a couple of top-notch museums, but first, this mural in Ryan, OK. I was also told there is a Chisholm Trail Monument close by. It’s down another road, and the sign is small, so I missed it.
OKHS Chisholm Trail Historical Museum -Waurika, OK
Even though Google shows this museum as possibly being opened, it’s been CLOSED permanently for 17 years. Everything in this museum was moved to the museum in Duncan, OK. So, please, pass on by.
Chisholm Trail Heritage Center – Duncan, OK
A knowledgeable employee gave me a nice guided tour through the museum. The Chisholm Trail Heritage Center is a must-stop to see and learn more about the Chisholm Trail. Many displays depict the trail, stories about Jesse Chisholm, more about the cowboys who drove the trails, and so much more. Of the two I visited in OK, this one is the best.
Hours: Mon-Sat, 10 am to 5 pm, Sun, 1-5 pm.
Address: 2150 Chisholm Trail Pkwy
Kingfisher – Chisholm Trail Museum
The Chisholm Trail Museum in Kingfisher, Oklahoma, has a lovely display about Jessie Chisholm and an exhibit including maps of the trail, the life of a cattle driver, and more, including supplies they used along the route.
I didn’t know this when I went through, but there is a life-size statue of Jesse Chisholm in the middle of downtown Kingfisher.
FYI: The Chisholm Trail Museum is now called The Chisholm.
Hours: Mon-Sat, 10 am to 5 pm
Address: 605 Zellers Ave, Kingfisher, OK
The End Of The Chisholm Trail Drive: Old Abilene Town
It took me all day to finally reach Abilene, KS. My work for the day was done as I drove into town to find my hotel and get a bite to eat. I spend four days in town doing many fun things, including visiting Historic Old Abilene Town. But I’m saving all this for my next article about my experience in the city. So, please bookmark this page because I’ll share the link here.
Dickinson County Historical Society
The next day, I headed to the Dickinson County Historical Society, where I found many exhibits on the Chisholm Trail. You’ll have to see my next article about my time in Abilene, KS, to see what else I found here to do!
In the museum, you’ll see a statue of Wild Bill Hickok in action as he pulled the trigger on a stampede of longhorns that got away from the herd and headed toward women and children. See a replica of him as sheriff in town. He often had to keep order in the city when the rowdy cowboys celebrated after a three-month drive herding thousands of cattle from Texas to the town.
Hours: Weds-Sat 10:00 am to 5:00 pm; Sunday 1:00-5:00 pm
Address: 412 S Campbell St., Abilene, KS
I also know that the Chisholm Trail went through other parts of Kansas, like Caldwell, KS & Wichita, KS, with museums in both cities.
According to Karen Sturm, Caldwell was founded in 1871 to catch the cattle drives coming up the Chisholm Trail. The wildest period was in 1880-1885 when the railroad ended here. During those years, the town went through 16 marshals! Still a state record. We have preserved our history with historical markers, an 1880s brothel, an opera house, and a museum. Visitors can get a personal tour by contacting her at 620-845-4034 or check out the website at Caldwellkansas.com.
What Is Special About Abilene, KS?
- Dwight D. Eisenhower was from Abilene and was our 34th President (from the 34th State!)
- There is a beautiful Eisenhower Presidential Library to visit.
- The Eisenhower Park & Rose Garden is the most beautiful park I’ve ever seen—photos in my next article. There is no admission fee to the park.
- Home of the World’s Largest Belt Buckle.
- Greyhound Hall of Fame Museum
- and so much more!
In my next article about my time in Abilene, KS, I’ll cover fun things to do, like visiting the fair and rodeo, touring the Historic Seelye Mansion, riding the train, etc., and all the wonderful food I ate! So, please stay tuned.
Until I see you again …ride on Cowboys! I enjoyed my time following the Chisholm Trail from Texas To Abilene, KS, and I recommend anyone to do the same—there is so much history to learn.
To learn more about taking a Texas road trip to Kansas, check out the Visit Abilene, Kansas website today!