Hide and Tallow Trade

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HIDE AND TALLOW TRADE. In California under the Spanish regime, missions and ranchers depended chiefly on the sale of hides and tallow for a livelihood. In 1822 William A. Gale, a former fur trader, interested Bryant, Sturgis and Company of Boston in the products from the region's large cattle herds, and Boston ships took over the trade. The discovery of gold in California threatened to destroy the trade until the coming of the railroad induced a gradual revival.

In the region east of California and west of the Mississippi River, the cattle trade boomed after the Civil War, although few cattle were killed for hides alone. Buffalo hide had long been an important article of commerce, and with the coming of the railroad, buffalo were slaughtered in huge numbers. Both whites and Indians became hide hunters, and from Texas to Canada the plains were strewn with carcasses, until by the mid-1880s the vast herds had been extinguished.


Bancroft, Hubert Howe. History of California. 7 vols. San Francisco: The History Company, 1884–1890. Reprint, Santa Barbara, Calif.: W. Hebberd, 1963–1970.

Isenberg, Andrew C. The Destruction of the Bison: An Environ-mental History, 1750–1920. Studies in Environmental History Series. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2000.

Frank EdwardRoss/c. w.

See alsoBuffalo (Bison) ; Fur Trade and Trapping .