Kansas major part of trail that drove the West 150 years ago

The Old West and everything people associate with it – cowboys, cattle drives, cowtowns and cowboy hats – started in Kansas.

That will become even more evident this year as the Chisholm Trail – which launched many of those iconic images – celebrates its 150th anniversary.

“The American cowboy was born on the Chisholm Trail,” said Jim Hoy, a fifth-generation Flint Hills rancher and Kansas historian.

“There were herders, drovers and people working livestock all over the world for centuries, but it wasn’t until after the Civil War when the American folk-type cowboy came into existence on the Chisholm Trail.

“Kansas is home to the cowboy.”

Beginning in 1867, vast herds of cattle were driven up the Chisholm Trail from Texas to the cowtowns of Kansas. The trail is named after Jesse Chisholm, who had a trading post in Wichita and frequently traded with American Indian tribes throughout much of the region.

The cattle markets were in Kansas. So was the railroad, to ship the beef back East.

(Read more: Wichita Eagle)