“The Chisholm Trail: Driving the American West”

The Chisholm Trail – Driving the American West, 1867-2017 Chisholm_Trail_2017 CT title logo

On view at the Historical Museum March 9 – May 2, 2017

Many thanks to our exhibit sponsors – Radio Kansas,  KSN Channel 3, The Wichita Eagle, and Bill and Donna Ard.

 The Chisholm Trail fundamentally changed the American West. From the birth of the cowboy as icon to the revival of the cattle industry, the Old Chisholm Trail helped shape our popular culture by altering how we thought of the American West and the individuals who lived there.

From 1867 to 1872, the Old Chisholm Trail, which ran from various ranches in Texas to stockyards in several Kansas towns, saw nearly a million head of cattle pass from Texas ranch land through Oklahoma to Abilene, Newton, and Wichita, and from there by rail to major American markets such as Kansas City and Chicago. The cattle industry in Texas had been throttled by the Civil War, but with the establishment of the Chisholm Trail, ranchers had a path to riches.

The men who kept the herds together and moving in the right direction were called cowboys, and while cattle had been attended by men on horseback for centuries, it was not until the Chisholm Trail came to prominence that the cowboy became an iconic figure in the American imagination. Stories from the trail, from nighttime stampedes to brushes with Southern Plains tribes, helped to cement the cowboy as the symbol of the hardscrabble American West.

Chisholm Trail Sesquicentennial: Driving the American West 1867-2017 is a celebration of the 150th anniversary of the Chisholm Trail. This traveling exhibit, originating from Symphony in the Flint Hills and sponsored by Lost Trail Soda, invites visitors of all ages to explore the Chisholm Trail from its inception in the 1860s to today.

Exhibit highlights include interactives, video interviews with historians and scholars, video and audio clips of movies and songs, and life-size longhorn cattle.

Special programs include:

Saturday, March 12th, 2pm – Singing the Cattle North with Jim Hoy – Free and open to the public

Saturday, April 1st, 2pm – The Chisholm Trail and Wichita with Dr. Jay Price – Free and open to the public

Chisholm Trail Sesquicentennial: Driving the American West 1867-2017 is a joint project by Symphony in the Flint Hills and Flint Hills Design. Major funding comes from Lost Trail Soda.



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2 Responses to “The Chisholm Trail: Driving the American West”

  1. Gaynelle Lentz says:

    I attended the Chisholm Trail event yesterday and I was thrilled with the presentation! The speaker was so wonderful and he inspired me so much that I came right home and started researching the Chisholm Trail. I’ve lived in Kansas my entire life and I’m very proud of our state.
    If possible, could you give me the speaker’s home address or email. I know I’m a dying breed, but I still enjoy writing and mailing a letter to special people. If you can’t share his addresses, I completely understand. Maybe I could write a note and you could get it to him. I wanted to speak with him following the presentation, but there was a long line and I was afraid I wouldn’t have enough time to tour the exhibits. My friend had been to the museum many times, but it was a first for me. I was so impressed by everything there and I can’t wait to take my grown children on a grand tour. A huge thank you for all of your efforts to make it such a grand place for Wichita.
    Gaynelle Lentz

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