Trails and Expansion of Rails Linked Supply and Demand. When the Civil War drew to a close in 1865, the plains of Texas had huge numbers of cattle for which there was no ready market. Cattle on the Texas range were offered for sale at one to two dollars per head. In the eastern U.S., there was a high demand for meat with a good animal selling for as much as $40 per head in Chicago. To join the supply with the demand, a large scale supply chain was needed. The challenge was to establish key links; and to get the links in place in a simultaneous manner. First, railroads needed to extend westward so cattle could be shipped from the Great Plains to the eastern markets. By 1866, thousands of Texas cattle were unsold since drovers could not get their herds to existing rail lines. Due to Texas Fever, they were blocked by Missouri and eastern Kansas quarantine lines as well as violent retaliation against the cowboys and their herds. Link #1 went into place when the Union Pacific, Eastern Division (which became the Kansas Pacific Railway [K.P.R.] in 1869) extended its line in 1867 to the village of Abilene, Kansas. Second, a cattle terminal needed to be established – one which would be convenient, safe, dependable and offered proper shipping facilities. Link #2 fell into place through the efforts of Joseph G. McCoy, an Illinois cattle buyer. He arrived in Kansas in 1867. After being rebuffed by more than one town due to a fear of the Texas Fever, McCoy was able to construct stock yards, a hotel, offices and support facilities at the tiny village of Abilene, KS. Since the quarantine boundary was about sixty miles west (i.e. about at Ellsworth), it was illegal to trail Texas cattle to Abilene in 1867. Longhorns went to Abilene anyway. Third, drovers needed a route to trail their herds from Texas to railheads and livestock markets in Kansas, Nebraska and Colorado during the mid to late 1860s; and then later to Wyoming, Montana and the Dakotas. Depending on their starting point, they’d cover as much as 700-800 miles and would be on the trail for up to two months. Link #3 involved Texas cattlemen often using the trails originated at an early date by Native Americans. Being familiar with the natural topography, various tribes had created routes that used the easiest way through hilly terrain and took advantage of the best fords for river and stream crossings. Trails did not go in a straight line since they took the path of least resistance which led to dependable water sources and abundant grass for livestock. Photo credit: 03/04/2019.