An effort is underway to get a couple of trails in Kansas designated as National Historic Trails.
This week, U.S. Senator Jerry Moran introduced legislation to designate the Chisholm and Western cattle trails as National Historic Trails. U.S. Representative Ron Estes introduced companion legislation in the House of Representatives.
The Chisholm Trail runs through Caldwell, Wichita, Abilene and Ellsworth, and the Western Trail runs through Dodge City and other Kansas communities. The Chisholm trail was used primarily from 1867 to 1885 and the Western trail from 1874 to 1897 to move more than 10 million cattle across the country, contributing to the economic growth of the towns and cities along the trails.
“As the country expanded westward, ranchers moved millions of heads of cattle across the plains to train depots in Kansas along the Chisholm and Western cattle trails,” said Sen. Moran. “These trails played an important role in the economy of the country and supplying food for Americans in the late 19th century. Designating them as historic trails will help preserve their place in our nation’s history for the enjoyment and education of future generations of Americans, while providing economic opportunities for Kansas communities to promote tourism to our state.”
“When we think about advances that moved our country forward, the Chisholm and Western Trails are two of those elements that helped shape the midwestern economy – with millions of cattle traveling through the Great Plains,”said Rep. Estes. “Farmers and ranchers from Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas and Nebraska have always been a critical part of this country, and the cowboy culture that was evident on the Chisholm and Western Trails are at the very heart of who we are as Americans – hard-working, rugged and independent. Designating these trails is more than just noting paths through the Great Plains, but showcasing the historical significance of the people who traveled the more than 1,300 miles through multiple states, and their way of life.”
Designating these trails as will allow the voluntary collaboration between landowners, communities, state and local governments to maintain, conserve and promote the trails. These trails will join the 19 other designated historic trails across the nation, including five trails that run in part through Kansas.
This legislation includes strong protections for private property rights along the trails, and cooperation by landowners or communities is strictly on a voluntary basis.