Old West Lifestyle & Stories


Today Chicago, Illinois is considered the meat packing capital of the United States.  But that title was supposed to have gone tCattleo another town.

In the late 1860’s Texas cattlemen were having a problem with a disease called Texas fever.  It didn’t affect the Texas Longhorns.  But northern cattle, exposed to ticks from the Longhorns, were adversely affected.  Because of this, cattle drives were not allowed to travel through Colorado, Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois and Kentucky which basically cut them off from Northern markets.

A young man named Joseph McCoy got the idea to transport the Texas Longhorns through the quarantine states on trains.  He selected the remote town of Abilene, Kansas as the starting point.

Then he chose St. Louis, Missouri as the destination point.  This was the headquarters of the Missouri-Pacific Railroad.  So, at the age of 19, he presented his idea to the President of the railroad.

The railroad President said, “It occurs to me that you haven’t any cattle to ship and never did have any, and I, sir, have no evidence that you ever will have.  Therefore you get out of this office, and let me not be troubled with any more of your style.”

McCoy found a warmer reception from the St. Jo. Railroad that ended in Chicago.  Starting on September 5, 1867, almost 1,000 carloads of cattle were shipped from Abilene to Chicago.  The next year 75,000 cattle were shipped.
Realizing his mistake the Missouri-Pacific President, who had rejected McCoy’s proposal, tried to solicit his business.  Joseph McCoy told him, “It occurs to me that I have no cattle for your railroad, never have had and there is no evidence that I ever will have.”

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