Historical Kansas


        Ten miles ahead is Abilene, first of the major cattle trail towns of Kansas, and famed in the story of the Cowtown West. Following the Civil War, millions of Longhorn cattle were stranded on Texas ranges. Beef-eating Northerners were hungry and the problem was to bring the supply to the markets.

        After the westward-building Union Pacific railroad reached Abilene in March, 1867, along came Joseph G. McCoy from Illinois. He chose the town as a cattle-shipping center, built stockyards, and sent circulars all over Texas advising cattlemen to drive their herds up the Chisholm trading trail to the site of present Wichita, then on up McCoy's extension to Abilene. During 1867-1871 more than a million cattle were trailed to Abilene where, for a time in 1871, James B. "Wild Bill' Hickok was the marshal. Hundreds of cowboys, saloonkeepers, gamblers and dancehall girls added to the din until the inhabitants who had come to stay forced the whole kit and boodle to take its market place elsewhere.

        Abilene was the boyhood home of President Dwight David Eisenhower from 1891 to 1911. The Eisenhower Home, Museum, Library and Chapel help make it one of Kansas' most interesting cities.

Erected by State Historical Society and State Highway Commission

Saline County  
Historical marker on I-70
West of Abilene
Saline County
 

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November 10, 2000 / Bob Walter / Wichita, Kansas / history@kslib.info

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