|Doan's House at Doan's Crossing|
The cattle industry in Texas took off at the end of the Civil War. There was an abundance of cattle in Texas that had been increasing during the war years and when the war. When the war concluded there was a great demand for beef. The railroads were expanding west rapidly and the cow towns of Abilene Kansas and Dodge City were born. A good deal of the cattle drives were being shifted to western trails as opposed to the Chisholm Trail which also ran south to north but about 100 miles further east. The Chisholm Trail was directed toward Abilene Kansas whereas the Western Trail was directed toward Dodge City. The modern day tourist can pretty much follow the Great Western Trail by driving US Hwy 183/283 and looking for the historic markers about every ten miles.
|Doan's Crossing Texas monument|
There are a few different interpretations as to who exactly established the Western Trail in Texas. First of all, it's understood that many trails followed old Indian trails which likewise often followed the trail of the buffalo. Exploration for suitable cattle trails often was a search for older trails. Accessibility to water of course was crucial for any cattle drive and buffalo and Native American trails would generally follow the water. The rancher who would be credited with establishing the trail was John T. Lytle who had opened a trailing firm. The business would supervise the trailing of herds for Texas ranchers to the northern rail heads, at that time mainly being Dodge City. Interestingly enough, Lytle found himself in this business after ill health caught up with him as a clerk in Bexar County Texas. Lytle first moved to a relative's ranch where the outdoors would hopefully improve his health. The next stop for John Lytle was the Civil War where he served in the Texas Cavalry. When the war ended he returned to his families ranch and then started one of his own. By the year 1871 Lytle formed his trailing business partnership and used the Great Western Trail for the drives northward.
|Cattle brands on Doan's Crossing marker|
You'll find these related articles interesting regarding the cattle drives out of Texas in the late 1800's. Legendary Texas Panhandle rancher Charles Goodnight and the famous Waggoner Ranch of north Texas.
One other interesting thing about present day Doan's Crossing is the annual picnic held there usually the first Saturday in May. The event is a celebration and picnic with riders crossing the Red River at the same point that the Western Trail cattle drives did over a century ago.Those who are direct descendants of the Doan's are crowned Queen and King at the yearly Coronation.The public is invited to attend this quite unique event. The most up to date information about Doan's Crossing, the Great Western Trail and scheduled western events in the area can be found at the Red River Valley Museum in Vernon Texas.
(Photos from author's private collection)