heir names are Ellsworth, Abilene, Dodge City - and their stories are unique to the pages of America's history.



hese were the dusty, hardscrabble places where the cowboy worked and played, pushing hundreds and thousands of longhorns up the trail from Texas to the west-ward reaching railroads.


his was the birth of the American cattle industry in the United States and no place was more important than Ellsworth.  Between 1868 and 1875, the cattletown was a major shipping point on the Kansas Pacific Railroad.


he Texas Longhorns were moved along parts of the Chisholm Trail and the Ellsworth Cattle Trail, arriving in large numbers by late May and June of each year.  Cattle buyers from feedyards and processing centers of the more populated areas of the East filled Ellsworth's hotels in anticipation of buying cattle on the surrounding prairies.


he cattle purchased were then driven to Ellsworth's extensive stockyards and shipped East by train.  In addition, buyers from the new ranch lands in the territory, such as Wyoming, purchased stock for grazing.  The cowboys drove these cattle on extended trail drives to these ranch lands.


Ellsworth is platted, just a few miles away from Fort Harker.  The Santa Fe and Smoky Hills Trail went through the settlement, as did Union Pacific Railway, later that year.

Plagued with flooding and cholera, much of the population dwindled, but town founder Arthur Larkin was persistent, moving the settlement to higher ground, building a hotel and a general store, and planting roots in Ellsworth.  Other businesses followed.


Vigilantes were getting restless, causing violence and mayhem in Ellsworth, and requiring the first lawman to be elected.  E.W. Kingsbury was elected over James Butler "Wild Bill" Hickok for the job.


Union Pacific Railway put up pens and invited Texas ranchers to bring their herds to Ellsworth.  Abilene's Drovers Cottage was moved to Ellsworth, making room for 175 guests.


Ellsworth booms in the cattle industry, moving 220,000 head of cattle through the town and bringing a lot of money to the area - mostly in gambling, brothels, and saloons.

Sheriff Chauncey B. Whitney is accidentally shot on the streets of Ellsworth in a dispute over a card game.


The cattle industry shifts to Dodge City, after settlement of the town blocks the trails and Kansas Pacific shuts down the pens.  

Ellsworth's "end of the trail" heritage tells the story of our character, our tenacity, and our importance to the cattle industry.

© 2019 by Stacie Schmidt

National Drovers Hall of Fame

A registered 501c3 in the State of Kansas