The Great Die Off

The Cattle Great Die Off

Cattle were king in the Old West, an economic and cultural foundation that fed the myth—until the Great Die Off.

The summer of 1886 brought a terrible drought that killed much of the open range grasses.  That was followed by one of the worst-ever winters with sub-zero temperatures and snow drifts several feet in height.  There was no food for the herds; in some areas, 90% of the cattle died.

Ranchers went out of business. Many cowboys turned to outlawry to make a living. The cattle industry changed forever.

What do you think?

Mark Boardman

Mark Boardman is the features editor for True West Magazine as well as the editor of The Tombstone Epitaph. He also serves as pastor for Poplar Grove United Methodist Church in Indiana.