Cattle drives and the Old West

Cattle Ranching and the Old West

Have you ever looked at the different types of communities that have grown up in different parts of our country?


On the eastern coasts it started off as mostly agricultural, and then the Northeastern coast started becoming more industrial while the Southeastern areas became more agricultural.  Than our middle states, in particular Iowa and Ohio region are full of farms.  Why is that?


It’s the weather, and the soil and many other factors.  Well, people came to Texas thinking great big flat expanses, perfect for farming.


And then they discovered the snow up North helps make the soil better for farming, and the lack of rain really makes it hard to grow crops.


But, it’s great for cows.  You can turn them loose on large expanses and just let them wander.  Then you ride them up North to the railroads in Kansas and sell them for a profit in Chicago.


But how does that work?  We wanted to find out about the old Cattle drives, so we took a field trip.


jobs for women in the Old West

First we learned about the early settlers, there’s a memorial to them a couple of miles from our house, and we followed the statues and learned.

jobs for women in the Old West

First that early pioneers weren’t limited to men.  Hattie Cluck was one of the first settlers, and she went on cattle drives.  We learned that on the frontier both genders had jobs to get done, and for many of the jobs it didn’t matter if you were man or woman.

Why is Round Rock named Round Rock

Then we headed carefully across the street and looked at the famous “Round Rock,”  This rock helped people to know this is a low water crossing and their cattle can safely cross here.


Why is Round Rock called Round Rock

The famous, or at least in cattle country, Chisholm Trail runs right through Round Rock, and you can see proof of its importance all throughout our town, schools are named after it, roads are named after it.  I’m sure somewhere in Texas there is a town named for it.


Who are the Texas immigrants

We continued on down and learned that not all of the Texas immigrants came from the United States, as a matter of fact we had many immigrants from all throughout Europe, significant portions coming from Germany and the Czech areas.  So our towns have an odd conglomeration of names from English tradition (Shining Star) to American (Austin) to Mexican (San Antonio) to German (New Braunsfel).

As a side note, the Quick Pharmacy mentioned in that plaque is still in existence, and we’ve filled several prescriptions there.


cattle ranching

Then we headed over to look at the statues of the cattle.  We talked about how the long horns of these cows are useful for protection, and how these cows are different from Superman’s favorite cows the milk cows.


Why did cows wear a cow bell?

Then we learned about the bell steer, which is the one that leads the herd in darkness or bad weather where you can’t see well.  Of course we had to look over the statues to find the bell steer that was leading the herd.


why did cows have a bell?

They were very intrigued by the cow bell and how helpful it was on cattle drives.


hands on maps

When we got home we worked on making some hands on maps for the kids to play with and let them have a better memory of what we had just learned on our field trip!



Oh, and thanks for the many well wishes yesterday, I’m feeling much better, but have a doctor’s appointment to get a migraine prescription.  It’s rather ridiculous to spend 5 days with a headache, and it left me feeling very very miserable leading to my total exhaustion on Saturday………


7 responses to “Cattle drives and the Old West”

  1. You live in an interesting part of the country. We are yet to learn much about history of California – with my limited knowledge I think I’ll leave that to schools (and SOTW).

    1. Field trips and reading roadside markers is how I learn a lot of my knowledge of the area. It’s a great way to find random little facts.

  2. maryanne @ mama smiles Avatar
    maryanne @ mama smiles

    I love that first photo with your two boys!

    1. Me too, they had so much fun with that, and asked me to take their picture.

  3. I always love reading about your field trips. We do the same thing and stop to read any info on the history of an area as we can. The Old West, cattle trails and ranches are part of my favorite time in history! Thanks for joining in the link-up!

  4. You need to research (double check) Texas history and not believe everything you read just because somebody put it on a marker. Try TSHAonline and look up Chisholm Trail and Jesse Chisholm. You’ll find that somebody played fast and loose with history on The Crossing marker. This will encourage your children to learn things from better sources, don’t you think? Best of luck to ya!

    1. Interesting, I just read the wikipedia page on Jesse Chisholm (admittedly also not always accurate, but best I have at this moment), and you’re right. I’d guess poor editing on the part of the government official, but it’s a shame the plaque is wrong.

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