The first thing I am going to show you is a map that shows the trails that the the herds took, mostly to the railroads but also to other destinations. I knew that the herds went to railroad towns like Dodge City and Abiliene but I didn't know about the other railroad towns and I sure didn't know that they went the whole way up to Fort Buford which is close to Canada. I learned something from this map and hope you will, too.
This next picture is of the most important part of the trail drive; the chuck wagon. I suppose the cows came in second. . .
The second most important thing on the trail was the bed rolls. The movies show cowboys bedding down using their saddle as a pillow and the saddle blanket to lay on. The real cowboys wanted it a little bit softer. They had bags filled with feathers, down, and or cotton. When rolled up, they were too big to carry on the back of their horse, so they were loaded into wagons.
This is a picture of the main street of Dodge City. It faces the railroad tracks, which was the source of its main income. Doesn't look like the Dodge City of the TV show where Matt Dillon was marshal, does it?
That era of the trail drives didn't last too long. One of the reasons that it didn't was barbed wire:
I tend to think that it would be fun to be one of those old time cowboys and take a trail to Dodge City. In reality, it was hard, dirty, work with long hours and little pay. What pay they got was usually wasted away in Dodge City or one of the other destinations on wine, women, and song. Now, get a long little doggies and have a great day, what ever your destination is, you hear?