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The first railroad line


Benedictine College in Kansas
Benedictine College in Kansas

The first railroad line in central Kansas, the Union Pacific, had reached Abilene in 1867. Shortly thereafter, extensive corrals for cattle were built in Abilene, which became the first Kansas cow town. Texas cattlemen drove their stock north along the Chisholm Trail to the Abilene stockyards. The cattle were then shipped by rail to Kansas City, Missouri, Chicago, Illinois, or other markets east of the Mississippi. Later, other cattle trails met the railroads at the Kansas towns of Wichita, Ellsworth, Caldwell, and Dodge City. Kansas, with its Native Americans, cowboys, cattle drives, and dusty frontier towns, became part of the legendary “Wild West” that was romanticized in stories and films. Buffalo Bill Cody lived in Kansas, providing buffalo meat for railroad workers.

Abilene City Marshal James Butler Hickok (called Wild Bill Hickok), Wyatt Earp, and Ford County Sheriff Bat Masterson, tried to keep law and order in these towns and were made famous later in books and motion pictures. In the 1870s the cattle drivers found it more profitable to raise their own stock on Kansas rangelands than to drive half-wild herds of cattle from Texas. They could thus avoid the long, arduous cattle drives, and also raise better grades of beef cattle using controlled breeding in one location. As a result, cattle raising increased in central and western Kansas, and cattle drives became more infrequent, ending completely by the mid-1880s. By that time formerly open rangeland had been enclosed by a new invention called barbed wire; stringent legislation had restricted the Texas cattle drives; and railroads had reached Texas, eliminating the original reason for the drives. "Kansas" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia

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