Cattle Drive Notes
What is a cattle drive?
A cattle drive was a way that cowboys moved large herds of cattle north from ranches in Texas to the railroads
in the 1800’s so they could ship them to the Northern and Eastern states.
Why did cattle ranchers want to get their cattle to the Northern and Eastern states?
Cattle ranchers in Texas wanted to get their cattle to the Northern and Eastern states because they could make
a lot more money if they sold them there. In Texas, each head of cattle only sold for $4.00. In the Northern & Eastern
states they could get $40.00 per head. This was because there was a shortage of beef in these areas and the people
wanted meat. This is an example of the theory of “supply and demand”.
What was life like for cowboys during a cattle drive?
The cowboy’s life was adventurous, but it was also exhausting and dangerous. Cowboys worked sixteen hour
days on horseback seven days a week. There was always the danger of the herd stampeding and trampling horses and
Why did cattle drives end in the late 1800s?
The cattle drives ended in the late 1800’s because of the expansion of the railroads into Texas. The ranchers no
longer had to use trails such as the Great Western Trail or the Chisholm Trail to drive their cattle to places such as Dodge
City, Kansas to ship them to the Northern and Eastern States.
What is the theory of “supply and demand”?
It is an economic theory that the amount of a product and the demand for the product determines how much
you can charge for the product. For example, if you have a large supply of a product, but few people what it then people
will not be willing to pay much for it. On the other hand, if you have a product many people want you can charge more
for it especially if you do not have a large supply of it. Ranchers driving their cattle from Texas to the Northern and
Eastern states during the 1800’s because they could get $40.00 a head for them there rather than $4.00 a head in Texas
is an example of this theory.
Who were the Black Cowboys of Texas?
After the Civil War, freed slaves left the South because it was too hard to find a job and they moved westward.
Many went to Texas and found work as ranch hands. Many of the cowboys who rode the cattle trails during the 1800’s
were these freed slaves. They became known as the Black Cowboys of Texas. These African-Americans were often
treated as equals on the trails – in work, money, and respect – very different from the segregation that existed