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Historic Great Western Cattle Trail marked in western SD cities of Belle Fourche and Spearfish


SPEARFISH, South Dakota — Posts marking the Great Western Cattle Trail have been put in the ground in the western South Dakota cities of Belle Fourche and Spearfish.

The markers were dedicated in a ceremony during the Great Western Cattle Trail Association's recent annual meeting in Spearfish, the Black Hills Pioneer reported ( ).

The 1,800-mile trail was started shortly after the Civil War when ranchers returned to their Texas homes to find their cattle herds neglected and grown to a size where pastures no longer provided enough feed. From 1866-1897, the cowboys pushed their herds north to Dodge City, Kansas, and then to several destinations in the High Plains.

The association in 2003 launched a project to mark the trail with a cement post every 6 miles. The first marker was dedicated at Altus, Oklahoma, that year.

"I believe something as significant as the Great Western Cattle Trail should not be forgotten," said Sylvia Mahoney, an association spokeswoman. "It was becoming so obscure in the 21st century. We decided it was time to recover the Great Western Cattle Trail's past."

The trail crossed through the present-day states of Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota, North Dakota, Wyoming and Montana. Congress is considering designating it a national historic trail.

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