Today’s surprise? An old fashioned cattle drive temporarily stopped at Quivira National Wildlife Refuge in Stafford County. The drive is part of a celebration of Kansas’ 150th birthday and provides Kansans a chance to see this old western part of the state’s heritage. The drive, which began in Oklahoma south of Caldwell, follows the Ellsworth/Cox Trail to the Union Pacific Rail Head.
Four hundred steers will complete the drive, which finishes September 24 in Ellsworth. This weekend, it will pass through Ellinwood. The drive averages about 10-15 miles per day, starting early each morning and ending by about mid-afternoon daily. Fifteen mounted cowboys herd the animals down back roads, and with cooler weather, the pace is about 3-4 miles per hour.
Seven wagoneers also travel with the herd. Cooks get started on the evening meal by about 3:00 p.m., cooking the old traditional chuck wagon way using wood fire coals. They serve about 40 people each meal. Stopping early lets the steers and horses rest during the hottest part of each day.
No fanfare on this stop – the cowboys simply ended the day without much company. It looked like the real deal, if you didn’t count the 4WD pickups and horse trailers parked around the campsite. And on one of the cowboy’s daily blogs, he reported eating French toast and ham this morning for breakfast. Sounds better than beans and jackrabbit from the old days.
The next few weekends should provide lots of activities and visitor opportunities as the trail drive finishes up. Check out the daily progress of the drive at http://www.kansascattledrive2011.com/ And call the Ellinwood and Ellsworth Chambers of Commerce for more information about their weekend activities when the cattle drive reaches their towns.