By car today, driving from Bandera, Tx. to Sedalia, Mo. takes a
little over 13 hours – a good day's drive if you are in a hurry.
However, back in the days of the Great Western Cattle Trail, it
took much longer for cowboys to drive their herds to the end of
the railroad where they were shipped back East to the markets.
By following Interstate 35 through through Austin and Waco, our
first stop is in Dallas.
A visit to Southfork Ranch, home of TV character JR Ewing and
his family, is in order. Kick off your boots and stay awhile
because there is now a hotel and a 63,000 square foot conference
and event center near the property. Horseback trail rides are
available seven days a week along with a full-day tour including
the famous Ewing Mansion, deli lunch, round-up gift shop credit
and an end-of-the-day snack.
|Southfork Ranch, home of the
||The JR Suite at Southfork
The best thing about staying at Southfork Hotel is the charm and
warm Texas hospitality. You can even reserve a night in Miss
Ellie's Suite or JR Ewing Suite, both filled with memorabilia
from the original show. For more information, visit online at
I'm sure the cattle drivers of the 1800s didn't have it so good!
|Clint Eastwood as Roudy Yates on
Another television series takes us back further to the time of
the actual cattle drives, set in the 1860s. Starring Clint
Eastwood and Eric Fleming, "Rawhide" tells the story of how the
drovers solved the daily problems of the trail. Texas cattle
were first driven north across eastern Indian Territory to
Missouri during the 1840s and 1850s. When the Civil War ended,
the only good cattle markets were in the East. So the cattle
were driven to the end of the railroad.
Traveling further north on I 35, our second stop is in Oklahoma
City at Frontier City, a western-themed amusement park which
offers more than 50 rides and a water park. The wild-west
gunfighter stunt show features an old-fashioned shootout while
Two John's saloon Revue features music and dancehall girls to
1890s tunes. All is in family-style fun and caters to the kids
|The waterpark at Frontier City.
Photo Credit Andrea Harvey
Customer Relations Frontier City
Stay for lunch and try Bubba's Gut Buster hamburger from the
Chuckwagon Food Court or a chopped BBQ sandwich at Santa Fe
Barbeque. Sides include potato salad and baked beans or crispy
Okra. There are numerous chain hotels in the area for lodging.
We chose the Best Western Plus Saddleback Inn & Conference
Center because of the name. It is only five miles from the
airport and is decorated in a Southwestern style. Every room has
a refreshment center, which is great when traveling with the
We are only half-way to Sedalia, so we must continue. Based on a
diary kept by George C. Duffield, who made the drive in 1866, it
took three months. His journal is the basis of the stories on
"Rawhide." Our next stop is Wichita, Kansas, still on I 35 and
known as a Cowtown. It was first settled as a trading post for
the cattle drives. Experience what Wichita is best known for,
its western heritage. Enjoy great western family entertainment
and all-you-can-eat Bar-B-Que at the Diamond W. Chuckwagon
Supper featuring the Diamond W. Wranglers and step back in time
and explore America's most authentic "Old West" town at Old
Cowtown Museum, an outdoor, living history museum. Then dress
the part of a true Wrangler when you shop at Shepler's, the
largest western wear store in the world. If you have the time,
the family will enjoy one of the country's top zoos, Sedgwick
County Zoo. It has at least 2500 animals of nearly 500 different
species. There are hands-on exhibits at Exploration Place that
the kids are sure to enjoy.
|Experience the "old
West" at Wichita's Old Cowtown Museum.
In Kansas City, I 435 will take you
around the southern portion of the city to U.S. Highway 50.
Based on Wikipedia reports, cattle could be driven as far as 25
miles per day. They lost too much weight at this speed and were
hard to sell by the end of the trail. So usually they were
driven shorter distances. As many as 3,000 head of cattle were
driven by at least 10 cowboys with three horses per cowboy.
To handle these thundering herds, stockyards were built next to
the railroad. In 1866, it was reported the Missouri Pacific and
MKT Railroad stockyards handled about 168,000 head of cattle
alone. Of course, when the cowboys reached the end of the line
and got paid, their favorite place to go was Main Street, home
of several saloons. It eventually became known as the "Red Light
District." And most of their money stayed right in Sedalia. The
St. Louis Post-Dispatch even referred to Sedalia as the "Sodom
and Gomorrah" of the century. Located above the businesses on
West Main Street, these establishments provided jobs for
musicians, especially piano players. Ragtime composer Scott
Joplin was drawn to the area where he wrote the songs later used
in the movie, "The Sting."
"Rawhide" depicted the hardships of the 1866 cattle drive from
San Antonio to Sedalia, taking 217 shows from 1959 to 1965 to
finally reach Sedalia. Clint Eastwod and Eric Fleming actually
came to Sedalia to celebrate the show's ending. The city
welcomed them with a grand parade down Ohio Street. They lodged
at the then famous Bothwell Hotel, where my mother worked as a
waitress. She was privileged to serve them breakfast that
morning and reported, "they were just as friendly and polite as
any other human being. They tipped nicely, too!"
Main Street Sedalia at the time of the cattle drives.
Photo Credit The Sedalia Heritage Foundation
Clint Eastwood was the first celebrity I ever saw in person. I
was 13 at the time and resolved to meet and meet more stars in
person. Today as a journalist, I am able to do just that!
Barnett is the current managing editor of
The Weekender Extended
Magazine, which features places to go, things to do, and people
to see across the U.S. for the FUN side of life. After serving
as managing editor of her hometown weekly paper, she created a
quarterly lifestyles tab called The Weekender for her boss. He
syndicated the tab to other weekly newspapers who didn't have
the funds, time or staff to create their own. When the company
was sold, Kathy continued the regional publication until it grew
into a color magazine format for the whole state of Ohio. Upon
the owner's retirement, Kathy's husband acquired rights to the
name and serves as publisher. Other state issues were soon added
as well as the Weekender Extended. Kathy and her husband are now
raising two of their granddaughters in their Ohio home.
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