BY Jim Misunas
ELLINWOOD — The celebration of 150 years on the Kansas trail gave everyone the treat of what a cattle drive might have looked like in days gone by.
Young children and those young at heart from all walks of life were entertained Saturday as a herd of more than 400 Texas Longhorn cattle lumbered through downtown Ellinwood. Several thousand people attended the parade of cattle, which started south of Ellinwood.
Some of the cattle drovers guided their horses to keep the cattle in line while others used sharp whistles to keep “those doggies,” moving. The cattle were separated into smaller groups to make it easier to move them along.
The cattle were moved to a camp near the the Barton-Rice County line and NE 60th Avenue. The final leg of the Kansas 150th Anniversary Cattle Drive will leave Ellinwood Monday trailing five days crossing Cow Creek, Plum Creek, and the Ox Hide, leading drovers and cattle to the Smoky Hill River and the end of the trail cattle town of Ellsworth.
The TV series Rawhide immortalized the words of “Head ‘em up and move ‘em out!” by Gil Favor.
The 200-mile drive started in Caldwell, near the Oklahoma border on Labor Day weekend. Celebrations are being held in several Kansas towns along the old Ellsworth/Cox Cattle Trail.
The route follows the old Cox Cattle Trail to the Kansas Pacific Railhead at Ellsworth that started in 1873. Modern cowboys will trail cattle on the very same route used by original drovers, bed down the cattle on historic bed grounds and camp at the very same cow camps that made the cowboy famous. The herd crosses rolling prairie and travel along a series of rivers. Each rung of the drive is marked by Fall Creek, Bluff Creek, and Sand Creek before crossing the Chikaskia River.
Just as in the days of old, the trail boss will be in charge of two chuckwagons, four “cookies,” seven drovers, seven “guest” drovers, a string of horses, and, of course, a great herd of longhorn cattle.
Ellinwood used the event for its celebration of 150 years of Kansas history. The Ellinwood attendees were entertained by storytellers and gunslingers from the Wild West. A petting zoo and pony rides were provided for children. Contests featured an old-fashioned clothing style contest and a best-looking mustache and beard contest. A ranch rodeo was also scheduled.
Professional cowboys have driven the cattle overland with all of the provisions for water and hay and food that were required 150 years ago.