How Long did it take a Cattle Drive to go from Texas to the Cowtowns?

Ask the Marshall Trimble Cattle Drive True West Magazine

How long did it take a cattle drive to go from Texas to the cowtowns?

Jennifer Miller
Davenport, Florida

The “Long Drive,” which initially went up to Abilene, Kansas, was about 800 miles and could take as long as two months. It was about the same time and distance from the Nueces River, down near San Antonio, Texas, to Sedalia, Missouri. Trail drovers didn’t push the cows hard, as they’d lose too much weight.

By 1871, railroads had pushed farther west across Kansas, and the arrival of farmers caused drovers to keep moving west. By 1874, towns like Dodge City, Kansas, emerged as the major cowtowns.

Marshall Trimble is Arizona’s official historian and vice president of the Wild West History Association. His latest book is Arizona Outlaws and Lawmen; The History Press, 2015. If you have a question, write: Ask the Marshall, P.O. Box 8008, Cave Creek, AZ 85327 or email him at

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