Come on down to Crane, TX for the 150th Anniversary of the Goodnight Loving Trail, July 2-4. This unique celebration will be a three day celebration to include a historic driving tour to Horsehead Crossing, and the Old Steel Bridge plus other stops to be announced soon. After the driving tour, renowned historians including Patrick Dearen, author of twenty-two books; Tai Kreidler, Deputy-Director of Southwest Collection at Texas Tech; Assistant Professor Dr. Andy Wilkerson from Texas Tech, poet, author and great-nephew of Goodnight; Tom Ashmore, Concho Valley Archeological Society, and others to be confirmed will be on hand to conduct a round table discussion, question and answer session as well as book signings.
While much of this true story has been reduced to a book and made for TV mini-series, “Lonesome Dove.” The history of the Goodnight-Loving Cattle Trail is more than a legacy… but the truth and reality of the hardships of West Texas following the years after the Civil War. The Goodnight-Loving Cattle Trail began in 1866. The trail ran from Young County, Texas southwest to Horsehead Crossing on the Pecos River, then northwards to Fort Sumner, through Colorado and finally ending in Cheyenne, Wyoming.
Charles Goodnight was a former Texas Ranger and known Indian Scout. Oliver Loving was a pioneer cowboy and rancher. After the civil war, there was a large number of cattle and the cattle market was dreadful. The two entrepreneurs joined together to gather cattle for a contract to provide beef for Ft. Sumner, where provisions were needed to feed the outpost and the Indian on the reservations.
Two routes were considered; west through the Llano Estacado, which was controlled by the Comanche Indians or south then west on the Butterfield Overland Mail route through Horsehead Crossing and north to the fort. The southern route was chosen and preparations made to embark on this dangerous trip through Indian country Charles Goodnight bought a government wagon and hired a wood-worker to build an upright chuck-box mounting it on the rear of the wagon bed, thus creating the first “chuck wagon”.
The cattle drive began on June 6, 1866 with some 2,000 head of longhorns, 18 cowhands. The westward trip from the Middle Concho River in Tom Green County through Castle Gap would reach Horsehead Crossing, the middle point of the drive. But the 97 miles of dry land was difficult with a loss of 300 head. Cattle and cowhands traveled three days and nights without water or rest to reach the salty bitter waters of Horsehead Crossing on July 4th.
Upon reaching Ft. Sumner they sold the herd for 8 cents a pound, but the government would not buy the cows and calves so Loving continued to Wyoming while Goodnight returned to gather another herd.
Building on the legacy of hard work and determination, the community of Crane County will celebrate and the committee will have events for the whole family including shopping and food vendors, professional art show and workshop, antique and hot rod car show, kids games, petting zoo, kids’ rodeo, 1 mile, 3K, and 5K Fun Run, goat roping, baseball tournament and so much more. The weekend will end on July 4th with an amazing day of traditional July 4th activities such as a parade, Jake Hooker and the Outsiders Outdoor Concert and street dance and finally the grand firework display.
The group is planning their first fundraiser for Saturday, May 7th with the Little Miss/ Little Mr./ Miss Horsehead Beauty Pageant at the Crane High School Auditorium for beginning at 2 p.m. Winners of the event will be asked to participate as ambassadors of the weekend event including participation in the events opening ceremonies on Saturday, July 2 and the parade on Monday, July 4.
More information and registration for all the events can be picked up at the Museum of the Desert Southwest from 11- 4 p.m. Monday through Friday, online at www.facebook.com/GoodnightLovingCelebration or by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org.