ATM-2016-Cattle Drives

What route did the cattle drives take to get to Sedalia, Missouri?

Robert Tignor
Independence, Missouri

The cattle drives to Sedalia, Missouri, were some of the earliest in the Old West. Called the Sedalia, Shawnee or Texas Trail, this trade and emigrant route to Missouri was blazed by pioneers during the 1840s. By 1853, some 3,000 head of cattle were being trailed from Texas through western Missouri, but local farmers tried to block the  passage because of the tick fever carried by the longhorns. In December 1855, a Missouri law banned Texas cattle, forcing the drovers to trail them through eastern Kansas—where they also met local resistance.

The trail traveled north through the Texas cities of Austin, Waco and Dallas before crossing the Red River into eastern Oklahoma (along a trail that later became the route of the Missouri-Kansas-Texas Railroad). North of Fort Gibson, the trail split into terminal branches, including the one in Sedalia, Missouri, which remained a major crossroads and the site of the closest railroad to ship on to reach St. Louis and Chicago, Illinois.

Marshall Trimble is Arizona’s official state historian and the vice president of the Wild West History Association.  His latest book is Arizona’s Outlaws and Lawmen; History Press, 2015.

If you have a question, write: Ask the Marshall, P.O. Box 8008, Cave Creek, AZ 85327 or e-mail him at

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