THE END OF AN ERA
The Great Western Trail stretched from South Texas to Nebraska, becoming the primary cattle driving route for Texas by 1879. Also known as the Dodge City Trail and the Fort Griffin Trail, the Western combined southern feeder routes (Brownsville, San Antonio, Boerne, George West, and Santa Rosa among them) in Kerrville, creating the Western's southernmost terminal. Once united, cattle were pushed northward, crossing the great Texas rivers including the James, Llano, San Saba, Colorado, Brazos, and Pease. The trail left the state at Doan's Crossing along the Prairie Dog Town Fork of the Red River.
Nearby at Doans, a cement marker—placed in 2004 by the Great Western Cattle Trail Association—became the first in Texas to commemorate the route. The last known drive on the Western occurred in 1893, and while a number of contributing factors—such as barbed wire fencing and the settled frontier—led to the end of the Western cattle drives, the demise was primarily due to Texas fever, a disease carried by our longhorns and deadly to northern herds. Quarantines and importation bans ended the Texas cattle drives, leaving them to the lyrics and rhymes of singing cowboys and poets.