America's 1st Trail's End
The Trail's End Project
is an historical, educational and artistic tribute to the American spirit of opportunity, adventure and perseverance staged in the 1860's era of dynamic western development. The times were turbulent with political[,] economic and demographic upheaval in the aftermath of the Civil War (1861-1865). Particular importance is given to Sedalia's connection to early cattle drives and the development of the railroad system as part of the expanding frontier. President Lincoln's benevolent leadership style set the goal to unite the country by completing the transcontinental railroad, taking the place of dangerous wagon trains, stage coaches and long sea routes. He had also signed the Homestead Act (1862), which would lead to 270 million acres of land being developed - 160 acres per claimant - bringing settlers and hopeful immigrants westward in search of a new life.
The promise of wealth in finding gold and silver brought would-be miners to every new "find," creating boom towns all over the west. The gold discovery at Sutter's Mill in the Sierra range enticed over 300,000 "49'ers" to make their way to California.
Following the Civil War, there were millions of cattle, primarily longhorns of Spanish origin, roaming the plains of Texas. Herds of buffalo, nearly 60 million, had dominated the plains and provided the American Indian tribes with most necessities. With slaughter and over-hunting, the bison population dropped to less than 100 and the prairie lands were open to expanded cattle ranching. The meat-starved North provided a far better market for beef, which set the stage for the "Great American Cattle Drives" (1866-1890) and a place in history for the iconic American cowboy. Though cattle had been traditionally herded long before, 1866 marked the beginning of one of the greatest animal migrations in history, estimated at 5 to 11 million head moving north over Indian, game and wagon trails to available rail heads, the closest at the time being Sedalia (1866). As railroad construction and rail heads (Sedalia, Abilene, Dodge City) moved west and south, so did the cattle trails. The routes chosen would eventually receive formal names: Shawnee-Sedalia, Chisholm, Western, and Goodnight-Loving Trails.
In a typical trail drive, 12 to 15 wranglers (vaqueros, Indians, former soldiers and slaves, some young women-often disguised as boys, and teenagers or "cowboys") teamed to round up, road brand, and drive 2000 to 3000 head of maverick "beeves" north. They covered 12 to 15 miles per day in a dangerous endeavor with the threat of stampedes, lightning, snakes, Indian and rustler attacks, flooded rivers (notably the Brazos and the Red), anthrax, equine accidents and cholera. They encountered armed and angry Midwestern farmers, rightfully concerned about Texas Fever, a pooly understood tick-borne bovine disease. They spent 14 hours a day in the saddle on the 600 to 800 mile trip, which took two to three months and paid $100 for their toil and trouble.
The attire for the cowboy was functional: chaps (chaparreras), broad-rimmed hat, bandana, slicker, deep-pocketed vest, gloves, boots and his saddle. Pants were second-hand wool or old military uniforms. Riveted denim jeans would not come into use until much later after Bavarian Levi Strauss developed them for California gold prospectors. The cowboy's boots were pointed and heeled to ease into the stirrup and not slip through. They were knee high to protect from thorns and to keep out the dirt and sand. They had "mule ears" to tug them on and spurs to communicate with his horse.
One steer was chosen to lead the strung-out ribbon of beef. Grazing and driving had to be balanced so that the cattle didn't drop their weight before getting to market. With the trailboss in the lead, point riders directing traffic, swing and flank riders keeping check and the drag drovers eating dust, they would repeat the daily routine of moving the doggies along. "Cookie" and the chuck wagon (developed by Charles Goodnight for the cattle drives) and the remuda of 150 horses were often out in front of the herd, heading to the next watering hole and keeping ahead of other outfits on the move.
From Missouri, the country was expanding westward, realizing the American dream of "Manifest Destiny." In 1804, Lewis and Clark and the Corps of Discovery began the exploration of President Thomas Jefferson's new Louisiana Purchase from their base camp in St. Charles, Missouri.
Missouri became the 24th state of the union in 1821 as part of the Missouri Compromise. Missouri was a "jumping off point" for settlers heading west, since the Santa Fe (1821), Oregon (1841), and California (1844-an offshoot from the Oregon and Mormon Trails) Trails emanated from Independence, Missouri. The promise of land, opportunity, religious and personal freedom, gold and silver mining and serious adventure brought settlers, miners and pioneers west. The Pony Express (1860-1861) began its run of 1900 miles from St. Joseph, Missouri, stopping at 157 stations over ten days before it reached its destination in Sacramento, California. The Butterfield Overland Stagecoach route (1857-1861) traveled from Memphis, Tennessee through Missouri in a southern inclination, and then on to California. Situated smack dab in the middle of all of this bustling "westward ho" activity was Sedalia, "The Queen City of the Prairies" and eventually, "Train Town USA." It was a bustling community of cattlemen, railroad workers, westward travelers, Civil War veterans and profiteers. The economic and demographic explosion made Sedalia the home to both expected and "colorful" enterprises and brought a new wave of entertainment, which eventually included Scott Joplin and ragtime music.
The development of modern trains over the past 200 years created a dramatic paradigm shift in transportation, settlement and economics. Paralleling the Industrial Revolution in England, transportation and the world were transformed by the development of the steam engine by Scotsman James Watt. With his invention, he coined the term "horse power," equivalent to 746 "watts," in 1774, as the first trains had been pulled on a track by horses. Steam power was further refined by George Stephenson, who developed the first steam locomotive in 1825. America imported the technology and the first rail line in the U.S. was the Baltimore and Ohio Line, established in 1826. The first U.S.-made steamer (the Tom Thumb) hit the rails in 1829, though it lost a race to a horse in an early competition. Rail transport was safer and more efficient and gradually replaced canal and river conveyance with mule-drawn barges and paddle wheel boats. Engines burned anything that could bring water to a boil-first wood, then coal and coke. Trains were essential to the Union during the Civil War in troop movement and as supply lines. The South had a haphazard rail system. In 1856, the first rail bridge was constructed across the Mississippi River, paving the way for the transcontinental route. The process of building the rail line involved political compromises, surveying the routes, blasting the obstacles with black powder, building tunnels and bridges, laying the road bed, ties and rails and maintaining the track and suppporting [sic] structures while keeping supplies ahead of the advancements.
In 1851, tracks were laid for the Pacific Railroad in St. Louis, one of the first rail lines west of the Mississippi. In 1866, the railroad built large stockyards, followed by a roundhouse and repair shops. Westward construction was interrupted by the Civil War and in 1872, the Pacific was reorganized as the Missouri Pacific Railway. With mergers and acquisitions, MoPac would own nearly 12,000 miles of track over 11 states from Chicago to Colorado and from Nebraska to the Mexican border. In 1904, the City of Sedalia gave MoPac 120 acres and the largest rail car repair shop west of the Mississippi was constructed. Passenger trains acquired scenic names in the 20th century like The Rainbow
and Sunshine Special
. Other notable trains included The Missourian, Ozarker, Pioneer, Sunflower, Orleanean
. Known for its "Screaming Eagle" symbol and color scheme, it was a major hauler of grain, trailers, coal and dry goods. In 1982, the Missouri Pacific merged with the Union Pacific and Western Pacific Railroads to create the Pacific Rail Systems, later becoming the Union Pacific Corporation.
The pioneer railroad of the Southwest, the Missouri-Kansas-Texas line traversed the rolling hills of the plains through Indian territory and, eventually, out to the Rockies and down to the Gulf of Mexico. The M-K-T, or "Katy" as it was soon called, was a land grant concept destined to connect military posts, induce western development and provide dependable transport for good, services and passengers in the expanding Southwest. The Katy was established in 1865 as the southern branch of the Union Pacific Railway Company and evolved in a north-south direction, in contrast to the transcontinental and other east-west routes.
The Katy was the first line to enter Texas from the north. Operations commenced in 1870 and through its years of operation, laid track and consolidated other rail lines, controlling over 6000 miles of road and track. In 1988, the Missouri Pacific Railroad and its owner, the Union Pacific, purchased the Katy. Much of the Missouri track line has been adapted in the Rails to Trails Program into the Katy Trail State Park, the longest such trail in the nation. It continues to expand and serve Missouri communities, much as the railroad did at its inception.
The historic Katy Depot, located at 600 East Third Street, is known for its Romanesque Revival style and limestone construction, quarried locally from Georgetown. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, it is part of the Missouri Department of Natural Resources, Katy Trail State Park, and home to the Sedalia Area Chamber of Commerce, the Convention and Visitor's Bureau, the Depot Store and the Heritage Foundation.
Sedalia was no different than a great number of new western towns, as they tended to develop first along the waterways and later in line with railroads and trade routes. Western "boom towns" sprang up on trade routes, because of the growing railroad and cattle industry, or as the result of a gold strike. With an agricultural and varied economic base, the former had a greater chance of surviving the "bust" phase of townships as opposed to the "strike" communities, which often became ghost towns. George Smith saw the opportunity as the Pacific Railroad was selecting a route west and he secured land in its path to incorporate "Sedville" in 1857, later changed to Sedalia, and was rewarded with a depot and land. The railroad brought settlers, supplies, opportunists and speedy transport of goods and services in both directions. The lumber industry profited by the need for railroad ties. The steel industry (exemplified by Andrew Carnegie and the Bessemer steel process) developed affordable, lighter weight and more durable steel rails in comparison to the 700-pound iron rails used in the transcontinental railroad. Sedalia would later be the beneficiary of the first Carnegie grant in Missouri for the public library. The coal industry grew as wood was replaced by coal, when available, to fuel the steam locomotives (wood produced 3200 BTU per pound and coal 14,000 BTU per pound). Construction jobs were created, as the railroad had significant economic, political and social implications in the changing times of the 19th century. Early tracks had a variety of gauges or widths until they were standardized in 1863 to the modern day four feet, eight and one-half inch. The rail industry developed the five regional time zones, which became official in 1918. Though revolutionary in itself, railroad expansion also had controversial effects, such as the rapid loss of American Indian land, scandal and corruption during its planning and development, and the exploitation of workers. Trains remain one of the world's foremost resources for goods, services and human transportation as the speed has grown from 10 m.p.h. in the beginning to a world record of 361 m.p.h.
The first inhabitants of North America and Missouri were the Paleo Indians, nomadic hunters present around 10,000 B.C. or the end of the last ice age. A number of tribal civilizations had presence over the timeline, with the warring Osage being the most dominant, but including Cadda, Dakota, Delaware, Fox, Illinois, Kickapoo, Otoe, Sauk, Missouria, and Shawnee.
Missouri was a borderland between the deciduous woodlands and western prairies with the prairie grass bringing buffalo, elk, deer, wolves, coyotes, prairie chickens and an abundance of plant species to provide for fruitful tribal lands and way of life. The European settlers pushed native tribes farther west and brought new ideas, religion, weapons, transportation (horse and wheel) and livestock (cattle and sheep). They also brought diseases that the American Indians were not immune to (tuberculosis, cholera, small pox and measles), which had devastating effects. Tribes endured forced migration westward to "Indian Territory," with the "Trail of Tears" representing the last of the Southeast tribes (Creek, Choctaw, Chickasaw, Seminole and finally, Cherokee in 1835) in a cataclysmic exodus. Indian wars were common throughout the history of the U.S., both east and west of the Mississippi, as tribes resisted giving up their long-established way of life. Though Indian tribes had some success in resisting the mass immigration, their battle style was no match for the cavalry and its weapons, forts, railroads and logistics. One notable clash was the Lakota Sioux and Cheyenne under Chiefs Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse as they defeated George Armstrong Custer and the 7th Cavalry in 1876 near Montana's Little Big Horn River.
The use of wind power has been recognized since the times of ancient Persia, but it was an essential element of the western expansion. Early settlements had to be located near rivers or springs or a well had to be dug by hand. Daniel Halladay, a Connecticut machinist, invented the "American" windmill in 1854. Life-giving water could then be pumped for human, livestock, and steam locomotive use. The windmill opened the west to farming, ranching, settlements and "water and fuel" stops, which allowed the railroad development to progress overland. In their heyday, over six million windmills were sold by dozens of companies as the design transformed from wood to galvanized steel. Gasoline engines and the electrification of the country brought an end to windmill importance, but they still create vertical spires on the prairies and are still an aesthetic reminder of the frontier days. As history often repeats itself, windmills are back in the limelight as high-tech power generators once again.
Trail's End Guide By Cell Audio Tour
The Starline Brass Trail's End
audio tour can be accessed from any phone, including any cell phone, and is available as a "local" call by dialing 1-660-202-1156
. After the welcome and introduction, you can dial 2 and then the # sign to find a listing of 18 "stops" on the tour, which cover a variety of topics from cattle drives to steam locomotives to regional points of interest. To move to the next stop, press the desired number and the # sign. The listed stops are also available along with expanded information on the Trail's End Project
at the website:
The welcome and overview from Country Music Hall of Famer Leroy Van Dyke begins the tour. By pressing any desired number and then the # key, you will be taken to a one to two minute narration on that particular topic.
1. Welcome and overview by Leroy Van Dyke
2. Audio listing of all the Guide by Cell "stops"
3. History and importance of the American windmill
4. Necessity of the water tank in steam locomotion
5. Railroad history and evolution
6. Steam locomotive and tender car
7. Stock or cattle car
8. Rare drover's caboose
9. Horse's perspective on the cattle drive
10. Trail or cow dog's perspective
11. Missouri flag and state symbol
12. Missouri State Fair
13. Trail boss's perspective
14. Pioneer memorial and Trail's End time capsule
15. Longhorn's perspective on the cattle drive
16. Regional geography
17. Katy Depot and Scott Joplin legacy
18. Daum Museum and Sedalia points of interest
America's 1st Trail's End
The vision of the Trail's End is to create a lasting visual history that educates, inspires and informs about the early settlement of the west, paying tribute to America's first major cattle drive, the start of one of the greatest animal migrations in history that helped define the American Cowboy and the railroad development and construction that expanded and connected the post Civil War nation.
"At the end of the Civil War, in 1865, Philip Armour and Gustavus Swift built meat packing plants in Chicago, a growing town linked by rail to Sedalia, Missouri. The Sedalia Trail (1866-67) following the old Shawnee Indian Trail was born."
Great American Cattle Drives
End of the Trail [Memorial Cairn]
This is in dedication to all of the cowboys, pioneers, railroad workers, settlers, and homesteaders whose life came to an early end. They came to settle the West as well as make a better life and future for generations to come.
[high end sponsors, not transcribed]