Marking the Great Western Trail

Published: Dec. 11, 2017 at 10:17 AM CST
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The Texas Cattle Trail or what's known as the Great Western Trail has deep historical roots in Southwest Nebraska.

We caught up with Tom Kraus, who has played a role in marking the Texas Trail or Great Western Trail, on the edge of Madrid, Nebraska. He says that after the Civil War, herds of cattle were driven north and by 1875, Union Pacific selected Ogallala as it's main shipping point. During the subsequent decade, thousands of longhorn cattle were trailed through southwest Nebraska, and Perkins County, and about 2 miles east of present-day Madrid. "If (owners) could get the cattle to Ogallala they were worth about $40 here where in Texas they were worth $4, so it was a real benefit if they could get them up here," Tom said. He points out that not all cattle were shipped out of Ogallala to the East. He says many herds were also trailed up to the Red Cloud Agency and Fort Robinson as well.

"Most of the herds were between 1,500 to 3,000, and they usually had 12 to 15 men helping," Tom said. Because of the historical importance of the Texas Trail or Great Western Trail, the Rotary Club of Vernon, Texas decided to mark the trail. They produced a mold for the trail, and gave him one. The Ogallala rotary club then helped to mark this trail. Tom helped place about 30 of them to the south of Ogallala, but he also says several markers were also placed west of Ogallala on up to Scottsbluff and even at Fort Robinson. About 40 markers are now put up around the state. The markers are made of cement, and weigh about 250 pounds each.