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The Growth of the Cattle Industry

Chapter 15.3

The First Cowboys

The first cowboys werent outlaws; they were

Native Aztec prisoners that were employed to heard cattle.

Railroad and the Cattle Industry

As railroads expanded across the Great

Plains cowboys became in greater demand. Prior to the Civil War, ranchers didnt take their cattle far from their ranches.

City Dwellers Want the BEEF!

An cities increased in size, demand for beef

within those cities increased dramatically. Joseph McCoy had the idea to create a central shipping yard for cattle to be transported east.

City Dwellers Want the BEEF!

Abilene, Texas was enthusiastic about the


35,000 heads of cattle were shipped through Abilene in the first year. By the second year, 75,000 head of cattle were shipped.

The Truth About Cowboys

As many as 55,000

cowboys worked the plains between 1866-1885. Though usually portrayed as white, 25 percent were African American and another 12 percent were Native American.

The Truth About Cowboys

The life of a cowboy:

He generally worked 10-14 hour days while working on the ranch. Worked up to 18 hours a day while on the trail.

The Truth About Cowboys

The fears of cowboys:

NA raids were uncommon. Biggest fears were prairie fires, lightning strikes, and worst of all: stampedes.

The Truth About Cowboys

Myth vs. Reality


Ranchers generally banned drinking, cursing, and gambling Cowboys worked during the Spring and Summer and lived off their savings the rest of the year. Cowboys were more likely to die of pneumonia or from falling off their horse than from anything else.

The Truth About Cowboys

Myth vs Reality


Cowboys were young and were criminals. Cowboys cursed, drank, and gambled.

The Round-Up
Cowboys began working in the Spring. They started by going on the open-range

herding as many cattle as they could find. They sorted through the herd and looked for their ranch brand and new calves that required branding.

Famous Cowboys
Wild Bill and Calamity Jane

Made popular by cheap novels and had little to do with actually cattle driving.

Famous Cowboys
Wild Bill aka James


Was a scout during the Civil War; he was a violent man that was shot and killed while holding a pair of aces and a pair of eights today that hand is still referred to as DeadMans Hand.

Defined as overland transport of animals

that often lasted about three months. Long-Drive occurred after the cattle were assembled, sorted, and branded.

Jobs on the Long-Drive

Cook ($35-50) Wrangler ($1 per day or less) Trail Boss ($100 or more per month)

Supervised the drive and negotiated with settlers and Native Americans for rights to pass through their land.

They slept on the ground and bathed in rivers

or other bodies of water.

Workplace Hazards
Because of lightning fears they piled their

spurs, buckles, and other medal objects on the edge of camp to avoid attracting lightning. Thunder, or even a loud sneeze could trigger a stampede the biggest fear of cowboys.

The end of the Cattle Drive

When they reached their destination they

celebrated! They got their paycheck and a nice place to sleep and eat!

The End of the Cattle Frontier

Natural Disasters contributed to the end of

the Cattle Frontier.

Contributing Factors:

Overgrazing of the land, extended bad weather, and the invention of barbed wire were largely responsible for the end of the cattle drive. Sheepherders came in great numbers, sparking range wars with cattlemen. 1883 Drought struck the Plains
Water holes and streams dried up Prairie fires were common

The End of the Cattle Frontier

Barbed Wire The fence that closed the


Ranchers began to buy or rent large tracts of land so they could raise hay to feed their herds. To prevent cattle from straying or from trampling crops ranchers began to fence in the land with barbed wire.

Invention of the Barbed Wire

Joseph Glidden invented barbed wire in


He created it originally to prevent his dogs from getting into his wifes garden. 1874 Glidden sold more than 10,000 pounds of barbed wire. 1878 he sold almost 27 million pounds.