Trails West

Across the Southwest
And Cattle Trails

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The Butterfield Overland Mail
The Cattle Trails
The Chisholm Trail
Coronado and the Lost Cities of Gold
El Camino Real
The Escalante Trail: The Legend of Everett Ruess
The Gila Trail
The Goodnight-Loving Trail
The Santa Fe Trail
The Shawnee Trail
Trails of the Southwest

  • Butterfield's Grand Adventure Butterfield’s route extended some two thousand eight hundred miles (the longest stage line in the world) with the middle of the trail, or some one thousand one hundred miles, crossing the Chihuahuan, Sonoran and Colorado Deserts.
  • The Butterfield Overland Mail John Butterfield, who wore a long yellow linen duster, a flat-brimmed hat, and tucked his pants into high boots, told his drivers, "Remember boys, nothing on God's earth must stop the mail!"
  • The Butterfield Overland Mail: stitching the country togetherOn a time line, the two and one-half year operation (1857-1861) of the Butterfield Overland Mail was but a flash in the history of transportation in the United States, but this short-lived operation captured and held the imagination of Americans because it stitched together the growing country from sea to sea.
  • The Butterfield Overland Mail Operated from September 15, 1858, until March 1, 1861, was a semiweekly mail and passenger stage service from St. Louis, Missouri, and Memphis, Tennessee, across northern Texas to San Francisco, California.
  • Butterfield Overland Mail From the Texas State Historical Association
  • The Butterfield Overland Mail A brief history.
  • The Butterfield Stage from the Wells Fargo pages.
  • Butterfield Stage Days Bridgeport Texas
  • The Butterfield Mail Stage Route Lists the names of the stops between Missouri and California
  • The Butterfield Route Follow the route through the Fallbrook area of San Diego County.
  • First Woman Traveler on Butterfield Stage Nellie Steele Johnson’s trip from Missouri to California to join her preacher husband was the first made by a woman and her children.
  • Maricopa Wells and the Butterfield Stage If you were to follow the old trail westward across the plains to a spot about a mile beyond Pima Butte, midway between the Gila and Santa Cruz Rivers, you would find yourself near what was known as Maricopa Wells, a place called by many the most historic spot in Arizona.
  • Springfield, Missouri Site of General N. Smith's tavern on Boonville Road, earliest outlet of Springfield, also station of Butterfield Stage Route carrying first overland mail from St. Louis to Pacific Coast.

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  • The Black Cowboys of Texas There were as many as five thousand black cowboys after the Civil War. These cowboys played an important part in settling the west. They rode on the best known cattle drives, worked on the best ranches, and some of them even had ranches of their own.
  • Margaret Heffenan Borland By 1873 she owned a herd of more than 10,000 cattle. She was said to be the only woman known to have led a cattle drive.
  • California Trail Herd: The 1850 Missouri-to-California Journal of Cyrus C. Loveland. The paucity of information on the northern cattle trail to California lends the Cyrus Loveland diary in the California State Library great historical value. The Loveland account documents one of the first cattle drives to California from Missouri.
  • Cattle Trailing Cattle trailing was the principal method of getting cattle to market in the late nineteenth century.
  • Cattle Trails Cattle drives are the stuff of legend. From 1866 to 1890, the heyday of cattle trails saw what was then an enormous amount of traffic. More than one and a half million Texas cattle were essentially "walked to market," even after the railroads were built.
  • Early Cattle Trails The old roads and trails developed into our modern transportation routes and our cities located themselves along them.
  • Great Western Cattle Trail Six million Texas Longhorn cattle with hundreds of trail bosses, chuckwagons, and remudas of 40 to 50 horses rambled through and grazed contentedly in the lush, green grass during the period from 1866 until 1885 along this trail from it's origin at Bandera, Texas, just to the NW of San Antonio, about 450 miles south of the Red River, and it's destination of Dodge City, Kansas, about 45 miles north of Indian Territory.
  • Texas Longhorns Texas longhorns were descendants of cattle brought over by the Spanish. They were left alone to survive in the wilds of northern Mexico and southern Texas while the men went away to fight each other in the Civil War.
  • Lizzie E. Johnson Williams Schoolteacher, cattle dealer, and investor.

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  • The Chisholm Trail Timeline Excellent information from the Kansas State Historical Society
  • The Chisholm Trail From the Kansas Historical Quarterly.
  • The 100th Anniversary of the Chisholm Trail
  • The Chisholm Trail By Benton and Andrew of the St. George Elementary third and fourth grade class
  • The Chisholm Trail: "led not only from Mexico to Kansas, but also from yesterday to tomorrow."
  • Along the Chisholm Trail An exploration of the historic cattle trail and really nice Maps of the Trail
  • Fort Arbuckle, OK A remote outpost in the middle of Indian Territory, this fort was established on April 19, 1851, but was in operation for less than 20 years. Near the end of that two-decade period, Fort Arbuckle helped launch the legendary Chisholm Trail.
  • Books about The Chisholm Trail From

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  • THE CORONADO TRAIL and the lost cities of gold
  • Coronado National Monument in search of the fabled Seven Cities of Cibola.
  • Coronado National Memorial The Virtual Visitor Center
  • The Coronado Trail: "Coronado and the Lost Cities of Gold" Sunset Magazine's article by Peter Fish.
  • About Fort Huachuca Fort Huachuca, established in 1877, offered protection to settlers and travel routes in southeastern Arizona while simultaneously blocking the traditional Apache escape routes through the San Pedro and Santa Cruz valleys to sanctuary in Mexico.
  • Fort Huachuca: The Traditional Home of the Buffalo Soldier Fort Huachuca, more than any other installation in the U.S. military establishment, was at the heart of half a century of black military history.
  • The Huachuca Mountains And the San Pedro Riparian Area
  • Coronado's Journey Through New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas: Early Spanish Exploration
  • San Pedro Riparian National Conservation Area: Half the known breeding species of birds in North America have been spotted at San Pedro.
  • Birds of the San Pedro Riparian National Conservation Area This checklist, which documents over 375 bird species, has been compiled from historical avian records within the Upper San Pedro River Valley.
  • Francisco Vasquez de Coronado: a brief biography
  • The Coronado Expedition to Tierra Nueva By Richard Flint (
  • An excellent Map of the Coronado Expedition (135 K)
  • The Seven Cities of Gold Could the seven cities of gold be located in Grant County New Mexico? Read the theory.

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  • EL CAMINO REAL From Mexico City to the New World
  • A Road Fit For A King By Congressman Ciro D. Rodriguez. "Today, we continue to blaze trails in search of a new kind of gold in e-commerce, enhanced educational opportunities, and development of our local communities. It is important that we not forget the path we took to get where we are today."
  • El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro A primary route between northern Mexico and what is now the southwest United States, for more than 300 years.
  • El Camino Real de los Tejas The primary route used for more than 150 years between Mexico City and the New World along the Rio Grande. This is the draft national trail feasibility study and environmental assessment.
  • El Camino Real de los Tejas A series of trails extending from Mexico across the Rio Grande through San Antonio and ending in Louisiana, covering some 2,600 miles in all. For more than 150 years, beginning as early as 1689, this royal highway system served as the primary route of exploration, commerce and immigration helping to create the Texas we know today.
  • New Mexico's Camino Real: Nurturing a 400 Year-Old Artery Back to Life The historic trail that forever altered the face of the American Southwest. It deserves to be recognized and celebrated as a richly informative cultural and historic resource.
  • Old Road Forges a New Future After Mexican independence from Spain in 1821, Mexico agreed to open Texas to American settlers through the efforts of Stephen F. Austin. During the next decade, some 30,000 Anglo-Americans, along with 3,000 slaves, migrated into Texas via the old Camino Real linking Natchitoches in Louisiana and San Antonio in the Texas province.
  • Putting History on the Map The pioneering effort of the Spanish and Mexicans into what is now Texas began on a series of trails collectively known as the Camino Real de los Tejas. This collection of trails put us on the map, and now it is time for Congress to recognize their importance to our national heritage by adding them to the national trail system.

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  • THE ESCALANTE TRAIL The Legend of Everett Ruess
  • Everett Ruess: A Vagabond For Beauty by W. L. Rusho
  • Everett Ruess: Wandering Soul
  • Everett Ruess Logo Looking for Everett Ruess: A poet's quest in search of self.
  • The Escalante Trail: "The Legend of Everett Ruess" Sunset Magazine's article by Peter Fish.
  • From BLM: Visiting the Grand Staircase
  • The Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument: A Painted Land, Colorful People
  • Explorers and Vagabonds: The Lore of the Escalante Canyons
  • SUWA's web site Grand Staircase Wilderness
  • National Park Service's Hiking Guide to The Canyons of the Escalante
  • Earth Treks: Hiking Escalante Canyons
  • And a listing of Historic and Scientific Objects of Interest and also a Bibliography of Resources on Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument provided by BLM

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    Old Maps Across the Southwest These maps show how explorers saw the Maricopa and Sierra Estrella region, from 1600s to early 1900s.

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  • A description of the route of the Goodnight Loving Trail This trail is named for Charles Goodnight & Oliver Loving and runs from Texas to Denver, Colorado; then on to Cheyenne, Wyoming. From the Texas On-Line Handbook.
  • Charles Goodnight A bit of history. In 1876, veteran Texas cattleman Charles Goodnight entered Palo Duro Canyon by way of an old Comanche Indian trail near here to establish the first ranch in this area.
  • Charles Goodnight A biography from TheWest site. He and Oliver Loving blazed a trail from Belknap, Texas, to Fort Sumner, New Mexico, which became known as the Goodnight-Loving Trail.
  • Charles Goodnight Remembered The Cushing Memorial Library of Texas A&M University is fortunate to possess Goodnight's letters to friends and acquaintances which date from the first decades of this century.
  • Last Loving living in Loving takes family name in stride An article from the Witchita Falls, Texas "Times."
  • Music of the Goodnight Loving Trail The Texas cowboys learned the trade off the Mexican vaqueros. In those times one of the biggest ranches in Texas was the Maverick Ranch. It was so big that he didn't see the necessity of branding his stock, figured anybody in his territory who saw cattle would automatically know who they belonged to.
  • More words and lyrics of the Goodnight Loving Trail
  • The Lyrics: The Goodnight-Loving Trail Words and music by Bruce (Utah) Phillips
  • Texas Trail Drives A Middle School project. A map and brief description of the cattle trails.
  • The Story of Oliver Loving and the Goodnight-Loving Trail Texas: the new Frontier, where the Wild Wild West really was, where a man might be called to cash it in at any time just around the next cut bank in the trail. This web site is from Oliver Loving's g-g-grandson!

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  • The Shawnee Trail Of the principal routes by which Texas longhorn cattle were taken afoot to railheads to the north, the earliest and easternmost was the Shawnee Trail.
  • Pioneer Plaza From the 1840's until right after the Civil War, cattle, mostly longhorn from south Texas ranches, were driven along the Shawnee Trail to northern markets in St. Joseph and St. Louis, Missouri.
  • Shawnee, OK Over the course of the 1870s, Texas cattle drovers pushed their herds across Indian Territory; there were four major trails, with the West Shawnee trail crossing near present-day Kickapoo and Main Streets. Back to the top
  • TRAILS OF THE SOUTHWEST The Southwest Defined
  • Across the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park "Off-road vehicles" used to mean horses or wagons carrying Indians, explorers, soldiers, mail carriers, settlers, cattlemen and miners. Today there is a self-guided, twenty-six-mile (one-way) auto tour that traces part of the Southern Emigrant Trail stoping at several historical spots, including old stage station sites.
  • Billy the Kid Scenic By-Way New Mexico's Billy the Kid Route received a National Scenic Byway designation in 1997. This area is rich in history. It has been home to Billy the Kid, the Lincoln County War, the Mescalero Apache tribe, Kit Carson, "Black Jack" Pershing, the Buffalo Soldiers, the world's richest Quarter Horse race and Smokey Bear.
  • The Bradshaw Trail The Bradshaw Trail, a heavily traveled route from Los Angeles to Arizona during the 1860s and 1870s, was originally part of a network of Indian trails. The Bradshaw Trail became an important communication route for federal troops as they expanded control over Arizona and New Mexico. During the last years of the Civil War, the trail was the only way in and out of southern California by stage. With the advent of the railroad, staging ceased in the 1880s, but the Bradshaw Trail remained a freight route.
  • The Bradshaw Trail One of the earliest trails between Los Angeles and the Colorado River was called the "Bradshaw Trail" - in honor of California pioneer William David Bradshaw.
  • The Bradshaw Trail The Gold Road to La Paz, or the Bradshaw Trail, unlike that taken in an earlier day by Spanish Conquistadors in their search for the Seven Cities of Cibola where the streets of Indian villages were supposedly paved with gold, led to millions of dollars in placer gold.
  • The General Crook Trail The Crook Trail is named after General George Crook, the Commander of the Military Department of Arizona in 1871, who was in charge of subduing the Apache Indians and confining them to reservations. General Crook, who was known as "Gray Wolf" by the Apaches, rode mules along the trail as they were more sure-footed than horses. The trail was built under Crook's command in 1872 to connect Fort Whipple, the Arizona military headquarters near Prescott, and Fort Apache. Supplies and troops were moved to Fort Apache on this trail and for 22 years the trail was used as a route to patrol the northern boundary of the Apache Reservation.
  • The Geronimo Trail The Geronimo Trail Scenic Byway in New Mexico encompasses centuries of history in the Southwest. Ghost towns, cliff dwellings, lakes & rivers, historic churches and lots of history. The Geronimo Trail is located in southwestern New Mexico - 150 miles south of Albuquerque, and 75 miles north of Las Cruces. It covers terrain from dry desert to mountain forests to scrub-dotted hills and spans many different life zones. There are several interesting and beautiful side-trips which can be taken as well.
  • Jefferson Davis' Camel Corps Camels were imported from North Africa in 1857 to test their serviceability as beasts of burden in the American Southwest desert.
  • Paths of Empire: Trails to the Southwest "Feet of the wild animal made the first trails, short or long. Moccasins of the Red Man beat them down and extended them. The conqueror and the religious found and followed them. American hunter and trapper etched them more distinctly afoot or on horse. The creaking wheels of the trader's ox-wagon cut them deeper. Boots of the soldier raised their dust and sank in their mud."
  • The Pinta Trail Extending approximately 180 miles northwest from San Antonio to the site of Santa Cruz de San Sabá Mission near Menard, The Pinta Trail served as a transportation route through the Hill Country from the time of the Plains Indians to the present. Indians, Spanish explorers, Mexicans, German immigrants, Forty-niners, and United States soldiers used this trail.
  • The San Antonio-El Paso Road With the discovery of gold in California in 1849, the need for immigrant roads and commercial freighting routes from Texas' Gulf Coast to El Paso and points west provided additional impetus for the Army to establish and protect routes between Texas's major cities and the Gulf coast.
  • The Search for a Southern Overland Route to California In contrast to northern trails, the southern route was no single, well-defined path. With some exceptions, it was made up of a number of trails which generally converged at or near the Pima Indian villages on the Gila River in Arizona. From there, the trail followed the Gila downstream to its confluence with the Colorado, then westward across the southern desert to the coast.
  • The Skeleton Canyon Road Long before Skeleton Canyon, in New Mexico, became a smuggler's trail, it had been one of several favored trails of the Apaches in their migrations to and from Mexico's Sierra Madre Mountains.
  • The Turquoise Trail Back roads often lead to great discoveries. Venture off the freeway and onto the Turquoise Trail. This National Scenic Byway encompasses 15,000 square miles in the heart of central New Mexico, linking Albuquerque and Santa Fe.

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