Chisholm Trail Drive in Williamson County

Cattle Drives

One of those routes, known as the Chisholm Trail, passed through Williamson County

Also view
All Right Side Up exhibit at the Museum

Click here to view a video of cowboys discussing the cattle drives
Click here to view a dial-up version video of cowboys discussing the cattle drives

Chisholm Trail Days:

October San Gabriel Park, Georgetown
Come on down for some free and family-friendly Western-style FUN! Learn about the early days of cattle drives and cowboy life in Williamson County through activities, reenactments and a live longhorn cattle drive.
To find out more, visit thier website:

Williamson County's cattle driving roots
by Chris Dyer

In the latter half of the 19th Century, cattlemen rounded up longhorns by the millions in Texas, cropped their ears, branded their hides, and drove them north across the Indian Nations into Kansas along the Chisholm trail to the rail heads to be shipped back east.

Somewhere along the way, without intending to do more than work for a hard day's pay and board, they launched the legend of the American cowboy.

The cattle drives followed three major routes through what is now Oklahoma and Kansas.

One of those routes, was known as the Chisholm Trail.

Cattle trailing was the principal method of getting cattle to market in the late nineteenth century. It provided Texans with a practical, economical means of marketing surplus livestock.

The "Up the Chisholm Trail" event in Historic Georgetown & "All Right Side Up" exhibit at the Williamson County Historical Museum.

Georgetown, Texas - A herd of longhorn cattle was driven up Main Street in Georgetown to kick off a downtown celebration on Friday, August 25 to recognize the city’s location on the historic Chisholm Trail, as well as Williamson County’s rich cattle driving and raising heritage. The event took place on the square in Georgetown with entertainment for visitors of all ages, including live cowboy music by KR Wood & the Fathers of Texas, food provided by Duke’s BBQ, trick roping show by Star Varner, pony rides, western authors, historical trail drive re-enactors, exhibits by modern day cattle raisers, flag presentation by the Williamson County Sheriff’s Posse and a Chisholm Trail historical exhibit showcasing a Windberg longhorn painting “West Texas Royalty” and historic trail driving artifacts in the Williamson County Historical Museum.  Jim Gough, “The Voice of Texas”, will MC the event. 

The event followed in the tradition started by trail drivers in Williamson County in the 1860s. The father of the Longhorn Chisholm Trail, Peter Preston Ackley, coined the phrase Up the Chisholm Trail.  Ackley was a famous trail driver who made his first trip up the trail to Kansas as a teenager in 1878. Ackley spearheaded the trail marking movement in the 1930s in Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas, with the goal of placing an Up the Chisholm Trail marker in every county that the trail passed through. One of these historically significant trail markers still stands at the southwest corner of the Williamson County courthouse, and is featured above, as a tribute to the trail drivers of Williamson County.  

More than five million cattle and a million mustangs were driven up the Chisholm Trail from 1867-1885, making it the largest migration of livestock in world history.  Some of the earliest cattle drives originated in Williamson County and this heritage continues today with modern day Williamson County cattle raisers pioneering the “New Chisholm Trail”, the I-35 corridor.

The Williamson Museum Presents

view the Trial Drive photos

While some form of mobile kitchens had existed for generations, the invention of the chuckwagon is attributed to Charles Goodnight, a Texas rancher who introduced the concept in 1866. Chuck was then a slang term for food. Chuckwagon food included easy-to-preserve items like beans and salted meats, coffee, and sourdough biscuits. Food would also be gathered en route. In Texas, it is said that chili peppers were planted along the cattle trails to serve for future use. It was said A good chuck wagon cook was hard to find and harder to keep.

Here's Some Chuck Wagon Links

Interesting Links