We all know about one very famous road that runs through Oklahoma and, of course, that is Route 66, the Mother Road itself. But there is another historic route that is quite famous.
The Chisholm Trail was considered to be one of the wonders of the western world. Herds with as many as 10,000 cattle were driven through Oklahoma, starting in Texas all the way to Abilene, Kansas, and into history. Consequently, the Chisholm Trail has left its own distinct impression on the culture and heritage of Oklahoma.
Towns where you can learn more about the Chisholm Trail include Duncan, Marlow, Yukon, Kingfisher and Enid. On a map, if you just follow U.S. 81 through Oklahoma, you will have a very good idea of where the Chisholm Trail is located.
And through each one of these towns, you can find historic destinations. The first is at the Chisholm Trail Heritage Center in Duncan. It has educational and interactive exhibits, one of which lets you know what kind of trail boss you would have made. One fascinating area to visit outside Duncan is the Trail Ruts at Monument Hill. It is there you can see visible remnants of the Chisholm Trail left by cattle hooves and wagons.
In Marlow, visit the Marlow Area Museum, where you can see artifacts from the Marlow family after whom the town is named, specifically two brothers. In fact, those brothers were falsely accused of rustling cattle on the trail and part of that story was talked about in the John Wayne movie “The Sons of Katie Elder.” The original tombstones of the Marlow brothers are housed at the museum.
A stopping point for the cattle drivers along the trail later became Yukon. One particular location can be found at the Chisholm Trail Watering Hole and Historic Marker. A little further north, just outside Geary, Oklahoma, you will find Jesse Chisholm’s grave site. Chisholm was a fur trader and merchant and blazed the trail that later took his name. He created the trail to transport goods from his trading posts.
And in Kingfisher, you can see a life-size statue of Chisholm right in the middle of downtown. Also in Kingfisher, be sure and visit the Chisholm Trail Museum and Governor Seay Mansion. Several exhibits give a clear timeline of the trail, starting with Chisholm and running all the way through the land runs.
When it comes to the land runs, stop by the Cherokee Strip Regional Heritage Center in Enid, which tells the story of the largest land run in all of Oklahoma. There were seven land runs, with the Cherokee Strip land run being the largest. More than 100,000 people made the run, and they were running for 40,000 plots of land.
The Chisholm Trail was a very broad trail, but the main part ran through downtown Enid, and the famous trail literally put the area on the map. A beautiful mural depicting the trail can easily be seen in the downtown area.
The Chisholm Trail is part of several Oklahoma cities’ DNA. It’s part of their cultural heritage. And is also a source of tremendous pride.
You can find more information about The Chisholm Trail and where it runs through Oklahoma at travelok.com.
Dino Lalli is the producer, co-host and one of the reporters for the travel program DISCOVER OKLAHOMA.
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