Cattle Trail Crossing

US 380, East of Decatur, Texas

From Decatur take US 380 about 10 miles east to Denton/Wise County line; marker on south side of the highway.

Near this site ran one of the many “feeder” branches of the famous Chisholm Trail, best-known of all the cattle trails that once linked the vast grasslands of Texas with the meat-hungry markets of the north. The original trail, which stretched from the North Canadian to the Arkansas River, was blazed in 1865 by Jesse Chisholm, a half-Scottish and half-Cherokee trader. The 220-mile route, soon taken up by drovers, was extended north and south. Branches all the way from the Rio Grande gradually snaked up to join the main trail at the Red River. Although unpredictable Texas weather and hostile Indians sometimes prevented the drovers from keeping to the main route, certain points were fixed. One of these was the Trinity River ford at Fort Worth, just south of here, where cattle might have to wait for weeks to cross if the river had recently flooded. In 1895, the fenced range, railroad, and quarantines against the fever tick had reduced to a trickle the flood of cattle leaving Texas on the hoof; but by this time, the trail had helped restore the economy of Texas (wrecked by the Civil War) and it had left a legacy in folksong and legend of cowboy days on the untamed Texas frontier.