This year marks the 150th anniversary of the Chisholm Trail, an 800-mile path from the tip of Texas to railroad towns in Kansas, straight through Oklahoma. The trail allowed Texans to sell their cattle to Eastern markets; the cattle were worth 10 times what they were in Texas. The Chisholm Trail supported multiple “boom” towns in Kansas and opened the door for the meat-packing industries that arose in New York, Chicago and Kansas City. During this time Oklahoma was Indian Territory and the trail boss would pay a fee or give a few cattle to the tribes whose land they were crossing.
The part of the trail that was carved into Oklahoma’s red dirt is iconic and towns along the historic trail have planned plenty of events and activities to honor the anniversary. Celebrate this historic milestone by visiting one of these museums, exploring the trail for yourself or attending one of these special events.
Chisholm Trail Museum in Kingfisher
This museum, located about an hour northwest of the metro, gives visitors a look into the life and history of the Chisholm Trail. Kids will love seeing a real chuck wagon and other odds and ends from trail life. Don’t miss the section on Jesse Chisholm, the trail’s namesake. The museum also houses many antiques from life in early Oklahoma and preserves buildings in the Pioneer Village.
Chisholm Trail Heritage Center in Duncan
The Chisholm Trail Heritage Center is located about an hour and a half south of the metro and seeks to celebrate and preserve the history of the Chisholm Trail and western culture. Kids love the interactive center where they can try their hand at roping, create a branding iron or sit in a saddle. The museum also offers two movies that explore the Chisholm Trail.
If you don’t have time to visit the museum but still want to introduce your kids to the Chisholm Trail, visit the Kids Corner of the website to find coloring pages and information about in life the west.
Cherokee Strip Regional Heritage Center in Enid
The Heritage Center, located about an hour and a half northwest of the metro, has a special exhibit celebrating the 150th anniversary of the Chisholm Trail that runs through Sept. 16. The exhibit includes a chuck wagon, campsite and photos of cattle drives and many other things kids will love exploring.
Beyond the Chisholm Trail, this museum is home to four historic buildings: an original Land Office from 1893, a home, the first church in Enid and Turkey Creek School. Family Farm Day is Oct. 21 and is a fun way to discover farming in Northwest Oklahoma.
You can follow the Chisholm Trail through the town of Enid by following the hoof prints. The city petitioned hoof prints to be painted on the streets and sidewalks through town that follow the original route of the trail. The trail begins south of town on Highway 81.
Cattle Drive—Sept. 12-23
Location: Pond Creek, Oklahoma to Wichita, Kansas
In honor of the 150th anniversary of the Chisholm Trail, a small cattle drive will follow the original route of the Chisholm Trail from Pond Creek, Oklahoma to Wichita, Kansas. Many of the towns along the route will be holding celebrations and the public is encouraged to attend. The public also is invited to visit the camp every night. To follow all the fun, find O-K Chisholm Trail 150 Cattle Drive on Facebook. They will be posting videos about cowboy life, live footage of the drive and updates to the schedule. Even if you can’t visit the drive, this will be a wonderful resource this fall if you want to introduce your kids to cowboy life.
Chisholm Trail Celebration—Sept. 13
Location: Downtown Medford
The cattle drive will be visiting the town of Medford (located about two hours north of the metro) on Sept. 13 and town officials are organizing a celebration. The cattle drive will go through town about 1 p.m. After the drive leaves town until about 4 p.m. there will be demonstrations including rope-making, leather-stamping and blacksmithing. Don’t miss the western photos, a chance to visit with cattle drivers, wagon or horseback rides, the cake walk and other old-fashioned games and activities for families. Visit the City of Medford’s Facebook page for more information at https://www.facebook.com/medford.ok/.
Chisholm Trail Celebration—Oct. 21
Location: Express Ranch, 12500 W. Wilshire Blvd. in Yukon
Dozens of western-themed organizations are coming together in Yukon to host a day of celebration for 150 years of the Chisholm Trail. Hands-on learning experiences, photo opportunities, live music and 150 horseback riders wearing period clothing are just a few of the things planned for the event. Kids can enjoy pony rides, roping demonstrations and seeing the Express Clydesdales while learning about Chisholm Trail history. The free event will be hosted from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.