The Old Chisholm Trail

From Cow Path to Tourist Stop

978-1-62349-671-5 Cloth
6 x 9 x 0 in
368 pp. 16 b&w photos. 26 maps. Append
Pub Date: 09/04/2018


  • Cloth $37.00
Winner, 2018 Elmer Kelton Book of the Year, sponsored by the Academy of Western Artists
The Old Chisholm Trail charts the evolution of the major Texas cattle trails, explores the rise of the Chisholm Trail in legend and lore, and analyzes the role of cattle trail tourism long after the end of the trail driving era itself. The result of years of original and innovative research—often using documents and sources unavailable to previous generations of historians—Wayne Ludwig’s groundbreaking study offers a new and nuanced look at an important but short-lived era in the history of the American West.

Controversy over the name and route of the Chisholm Trail has persisted since before the dust had even settled on the old cattle trails. But the popularity of late nineteenth-century Wild West shows, dime novels, and twentieth-century radio, movie, and television western drama propelled the already bygone era of the cattle trail into myth—and a lucrative one at that.

Ludwig correlates the rise of automobile tourism with an explosion of interest in the Chisholm Trail. Community leaders were keenly aware of the potential economic impact if tourists were induced to visit their town rather than another, and the Chisholm Trail was often just the hook needed. Numerous “historical” markers were erected on little more than hearsay or boosterish memory, and as a result, the true history of the Chisholm Trail has been overshadowed. The Old Chisholm Trail is the first comprehensive examination of the Chisholm Trail since Wayne Gard’s 1954 classic study, The Chisholm Trail, and makes an important—and modern—contribution to the history of the American West.

Winner, 2018 Elmer Kelton Book of the Year, sponsored by the Academy of Western Artists​

Nancy and Ted Paup Ranching Heritage Series

Published by Texas A&M University Press