Trail Drivers

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TRAIL DRIVERS, cowboys who moved cattle, typically in herds of about 2,500, from a home range to a distant market or another range. The typical outfit consisted of a boss, who might or might not be the owner of the herd; ten to fifteen hands, each of whom had a string of from five to ten horses; a horse wrangler (or remudero), who drove and herded the cow ponies; and a cook. The men drove and grazed the cattle most of the day, herding them by relays at night. Most considered ten or twelve miles a good day's drive, as the cattle had to thrive along the route. Wages for a trail driver were about $40 a month. The trail drivers' code presupposed that no matter what the hazards, hardships, or physical torture, a man would stay with his herd as loyally as a captain stays with his ship at sea.


Hunter, J. Marvin, compiler and ed. The Trail Drivers of Texas: Interesting Sketches of Early Cowboys. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1985. The original edition was published San Antonio, Texas: Jackson Printing, 1920–1923.

J. FrankDobie/c. w.