When the Civil War ended in 1865, the wild, roaming Longhorn cattle of Texas numbered over 5 million. They were everywhere and available for the taking. A market existed for beef up North and East and enterprising men realized the business potential. It was said that a steer worth five dollars Confederate money would be worth forty U.S dollars in major cities. The rush was on and trailing cattle to market became a massive business that produced the famous – and infamous - cattle barons.
Trail drives lasted between two to four months. During that time the cowboy could experience searing heat, relentless storms, floods, little sleep, stampedes, quicksand, Indian attacks and other sundry conflicts. Moving the herd 12 to 15 miles a day, there was little comfort until the drive was over.
During the short era of the great cattle drives, thousands of herds were trailed out of Texas. A typical drover earned a meager $30 a month. But the legacy of the American cowboy endures today and has become the iconic image of the “Wild West”.