Hat Creek Dateline: 1882/07/15
Longest cattle drive comes through
by Ed Cook, Contributing Writer
The longest trail drive of Texas cattle to date came through today. They were all wearing a trail brand of circle dot and belonged to Don Lovell and Jim Flood. The cattle had been purchased in Old Mexico and entered Texas by fording the Rio Grande near Brownsville. When they crossed the border an official count of 3,105 head was made by the border guard of the United States Custom House. No tariff was charged on the cattle for they were purchased on a contract with the U.S. government.
Jim Flood is foreman of the drive, he has a dozen good cowboys in addition to his cook and horse wrangler. The remuda amounts to over 140 saddle horses, 10 per cowboy.
Many trail outfits furnish a man with six to eight horses, however since this drive will take five months and cover nearly 3,000 miles, Flood furnished 10 per man.
The cattle are to be delivered to the Blackfoot Indian Agency in north-western Montana Territory. The contract calls for five million pounds of beef to be delivered before the 10th day of September. It also called for 1,000 of the cattle to be "she cattle, three and four years of age, and 2,000 four and five year old beeves."
The herd was started north on April 1, they followed near the gulf coast for about 10 days. When they came to the Arryo Colorado River it was 50 feet deep with bluff banks. To cross it the herd was driven to the mouth of the river, here where the river flows into the Gulf of Mexico a firm delta was formed. The water was from one to two feet deep on the delta however it was a half circle nearly two miles in length.
The Texas to Montana trail runs mostly north and south however most of the rivers along the way run from west to east. This results in the cattle having to ford many rivers. The longest ford of the trip from the Arryo Colorado however was just a few days ago when they crossed the North Platte. They crossed at the Forty Island Ford which is about 20 miles down the river from Fort Laramie. They forded where they crossed three islands still the cattle were in the water for nearly one half of a mile much of it deep enough to force them to swim.
They will soon find themselves on one of the driest portions of the trail. This has turned out to be the driest summer in the area north of here since the rush to the Black Hills started in '75. After they leave the South Fork of the Cheyenne it will be 80 miles without water before they reach the Powder River.
Armed with this information Flood has purchased an extra water barrel and is planning to make much of the dry drive at night, taking advantage of a full moon.
(Note: This "circle dot" herd was delivered to the Blackfoot Agency in good condition on Sept. 8.)
(Information source: "The log of a Cowboy," by Andy Adams.)