From 1867 to 1871, hundreds of thousands of cattle were trailed from Texas to Abilene to be shipped by rail to eastern markets. They passed through western Marion County near the present-day communities of Goessel, Lehigh, and Durham.
The trail likely was several miles wide.
“Chisholm Trail” signs carved on limestone posts mark almost every mile of the route. Those in Marion County are on east-west roads between Bison and Chisholm Trail roads.
Marion County tourism director Teresa Huffman has been meeting with area historians for two years to plan events to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the trail.
Huffman is providing an artificial campfire, which will be surrounded by rocks, with a covered wagon nearby, for Destination Statehouse, a Feb. 8 event in Topeka for legislators.
Chisholm Trail merchandise from county artisans will be available at several county events that are in the planning stages.
Items will include several welded art pieces by Tracy Hett of Marion. Daryl Enos of Marion will provide a wooden Chisholm Trail sign for display. Trail guide pamphlets also will be available.
Huffman said she made sure that Durham was included in Gov. Sam Brownback’s upcoming proclamation of the anniversary.
“The cattle didn’t just jump over Marion County,” she said. “Even though they weren’t loaded onto trains here, they had to go through our county.”
Cattle often were kept in a box canyon in extreme northwest Marion County to rest and fatten on grass before being driven the final stretch to Abilene.
A proclamation horseback ride the first week in May will stop for lunch where the trail intersects with the Santa Fe Trail between 240th and 245th roads, east of Chisholm Trail Rd.
Horseback riders who are interested in joining the Abilene-to-Caldwell ride for all or a portion of it are asked to contact Huffman at (620) 382-8830.
Goessel will have a two-day celebration May 12 and 13 that will include presentations by Jeff Davidson, Jim Gray, and others, as well as wagon rides and campfire cooking demonstrations.
A cow camp night is being planned for fall at the Gerald Unruh property on Chisholm Trail Rd. northwest of Durham. It will include a chuckwagon feed, speakers, singers, and storytellers. The exact date has not been set.
“There will be events all along the trail throughout 2017,” Huffman said.
Information on those events can be found online at chisholmtrail150.com.