The Barton County Commission Monday morning approved offering a letter of support for an effort by Ellinwood residents to make the historic Chisholm and Great Western Trail a national historic trail.
A branch of that famous cattle route, the Cox Trail, passed through Barton County east of Ellinwood, said Lloyd Kurtz, an Ellinwood resident championing the cause. It was Kurtz who requested that the commission approve a letter.
“This is a no brainer,” Kurtz said. “For the price of a letter we can get a feather in our cap.”
Letters are also being sought from the City of Ellinwood and the City of Great Bend.
The proposed designation commemorates the routes followed by nearly 10 million cattle as they traveled northbound from southern Texas to Kansas and adjacent destinations between 1867 and the 1880s. Ellinwood citizens are interested in moving the designation forward as it may positively impact the city, Kurtz said.
In recognition of the national importance of these two routes, Congress passed legislation that was signed by President Obama on March 30, 2009.
This law first called for a study of “The Chisholm Trail (also known as the ‘Abilene Trail’), from the vicinity of San Antonio, Texas ... to Enid, Okla., Caldwell, Wichita, Kansas, Abilene,, and commonly used segments running to alternative Kansas destinations” as well as “The Great Western Trail (also known as the ‘Dodge City Trail’), from the vicinity of San Antonio, Texas, north-by-northwest [to] Oklahoma, north through Kansas to Dodge City, and north through Nebraska to Ogallala.”
The Cox Trail was an offshoot of the Chisholm Trail. It was surveyed by the Kansas Pacific Railway Company, led by William M. Cox, general livestock agent for the railroad.
The route saved the cattle drovers about 35 miles, leaving the original trail in Indian Territory halfway between the Salt Fork of the Arkansas River and Pond Creek.
The trail then crossed the Arkansas River at Ellinwood before making its way to Ellsworth. The new route was also called the Ellsworth Trail, but most of time was referred to as the middle branch of the Chisholm Trail.
Kurtz believes it could be included in the designation.
The National Park Service completed the feasibility study for the proposed Chisholm and Great Western National Historic Trail. Public meetings were held in June 2010 and a 60-day public review and comment period ended Jan. 5.