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Cattle Crossing: Dodge City's Cattle Drive Stops Traffic

Brittany Jones Cooper

I have a few random things on my bucket list: jump out of a plane, witness a miracle, and participate in a cattle drive. OK, that last one hasn’t always been on my bucket list, but either way, I got to cross it off during my visit to Dodge City, Kansas.

Cattle Crossing: Dodge City's Cattle Drive Stops Traffic

Longhorn cattle have very … long horns. (Photo: Brittany Jones-Cooper)

When I heard the words “cattle drive,” I immediately assumed that I would ride in a truck alongside the herd and yell encouraging things like “Giddy up!” while the AC blew cold air in my face. This was not the case. Instead, I was partnered up with a horse named Easter, whom I immediately started calling Easter Egg, and whom I would ride during the event. Turns out we had a lot in common. He was nosy, energetic, and bossy — just like me. We spent the first half of the cattle drive struggling for power, but we eventually found our groove somewhere near Long John Silver’s. 

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Just a bunch of longhorns cruising down Main Street (Photo: Brittany Jones-Cooper)

Now is a good time to mention that Dodge City is where the TV western “Gunsmoke” took place. You know the show with James Arness looking all serious and brooding as Marshal Matt Dillon? Well, “Gunsmoke” taught me (and pretty much every American) everything I needed to know about the Wild West, including the fact that Dodge City was THE wild frontier town. 

imageMy beautiful blue-eyed horse, Easter. (Photo: Chris Reedy)

This year celebrates 59 years since the debut of “Gunsmoke.” So, to honor the show and Dodge City’s legendary Wild West heritage, Boot Hill Casino & Resort sponsored the cattle drive with 59 longhorn cattle. For you city folk, a cattle drive is used to move cattle from one location to another. For our purposes, we wanted to get our herd from the Boot Hill Museum to the rodeo arena via main street. To accomplish this, a whole bunch of people got on horseback and split into two groups. One group led the cattle, while the other group followed the herd. This was the largest longhorn cattle drive in Dodge City since the 1800s, and the streets were lined with excited spectators cheering us on. 

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Cowboys looking like cowboys (Photo: Brittany Jones-Cooper)

And those spectators came from all around the world. During my three days in Dodge City, I met people from countries as far away as Australia and Germany. “The folklore continues to engage the imaginations of people around the world,” said Sharon Stroburg, general manager of Boot Hill Casino. “Our bid for the largest longhorn cattle drive in Dodge City since the 1800s is our way of commemorating the city’s heritage as the largest of the cattle-shipping boom towns in the late 1800s.”

It took us about an hour, but we eventually got the longhorns to their new homes safe and sound. I said goodbye to Easter Egg and immediately jumped in a car with AC. Don’t judge — cattle driving was hard work! You can take the girl out of the city, but you can’t take the city out of the girl. 

WATCH: Longhorn Cattle on the Mooooove:

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