I often think about the Old Chisholm Trail. This is the famous cattle trail that extended from below San Antonio, Texas to the railheads in Abilene, Kansas. Over 5000 head of cattle followed this trail in the late 1800s before extension of the railroads into Texas, and the demise of the Longhorn cattle made in disappear. I am reminded of the trail because it ran right through my current dwelling place in Bell County. The main street of the little village of Salado was the Chisholm Trail and the cattle crossed Salado Creek that served as a watering hole. I turn on Chisholm Street everyday to exit the subdivision of my residence. The story of the trail is also indelibly imprinted into my brain by the movies staring Gene Autry and Roy Rogers. The classic movie about the trail drive was “Red River” staring John Wayne and Montgomery Cliff. That movie has one of the best fight scenes ever filmed. Then, in more recent years the TV Epic, Lonesome Dove, tells the story of the cattle drives.
Movies and books paint a vivid picture of the cattle drives filled with its many dangers from Indians raids, cattle rustlers, stampedes, storms and droughts. It all sounds scary. There is no longer the need for cattle drives and the closes thing we have to the Chisholm Trail is Interstate 35. As I think about it, and read the paper everyday, it is apparent that traveling on I35 is far more dangerous than the old cattle drives along the Chisholm. Deaths from auto accidents far exceed any of the raids by Indians. Perverts, rapist, serial killers, drug dealers, swindlers, aggressive drivers and others in the trade make cattle rustlers look like a Sunday School class.
I sometimes imagine myself riding on the Chisholm Trail as I drive along I35. When I’m clipping along at 70 mph and there is an 18 wheeler tailgating me, It’s like being pursued by a band of wild Indians. As I enter the Dallas traffic, on the way to my daughter’s home, it’s like being in a stampede. When I pull over to fill up with gas that’s like being held up by a gang of rustlers. So, the Old Chisholm Trail has nothing on me for an adventurous ride.
The Old Chisholm Trail is about 100 yards from my porch and I35 is about a half mile away. I can hear the roar of the trucks at this distance. From the safety of the porch it’s good to just sit back and imagine all the action that has happened along that stretch of real estate.