Cattle have been important to Texas' economy since early Spanish mission days. Before and after the Civil War, routes developed for driving herds through Texas to sell in Missouri and Kansas. The best known was the Eastern, or Chisholm Trail, but cattlemen continued seeking new trails and markets. In 1868, members of the Barber Watkins Reynolds family drove cattle to New Mexico and California from the Fort Griffin area.
In 1874, John T. Lytle drove 3,500 head of Longhorns from south Texas to Nebraska on a new trail, which he determined could sustain cattle to a shipping point at Dodge City, Kansas. The route became known as the Western, Fort Griffin or Dodge City Trail, and Fort Griffin served as an important watering and supply point. The trail began near Bandera and proceeded to Baird, where it fanned out at several points for optimum grazing. North of Albany, the route took drovers toward Fort Griffin, crossing the Clear Fork of the Brazos River in this vicinity (¼ mi. N) and at other upriver points. Multiple paths continued northward, merged again and finally crossed the Red River in Wilbarger County.
Two years later, between 73,000 and 108,000—about a quarter of Texas' northern-bound cattle—came through the Fort Griffin area. By 1879, as rail lines extended across the Eastern Trail area, the Western Trail became the primary Texas cattle route and continued as such until the last drive, led by John Blocker in 1893. By then, three to five million cattle had passed through this area on their way to northern markets. Cattle raising continues to be important in Shackelford County, a legacy of the early trail.