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Study Notes

Joseph McCoy and Abilene

Level:
GCSE
Board:
Edexcel

Last updated 24 Oct 2017

In 1867, Joseph McCoy created the cow town Abilene. In the westward zone of Kansas, Abilene served as a transit point for cowboys and their herds.

In 1867, Joseph McCoy created the cow town Abilene. In the westward zone of Kansas, Abilene served as a transit point for cowboys and their herds.

 

Abilene was the ideal location for several reasons. Firstly, there was plenty of grassland and water for the herds. Secondly, Kansas’ quarantine law allowed Texas herds to settle there as long as they were far enough away from the homesteaders to prevent disease spreading. It was near the Chisholm Trail, which was a cattle trail that cowboys could use to drive their cattle directly from Texas to Abilene. Finally, it was near a railhead so cowboys could transport their cattle to the northern states via railroad if they wished.

 

McCoy developed the cow town quickly. He bought lots of land, built a hotel, and built large stockyards to keep the cattle. He also spent $5,000 marketing the new cow town so cowboys would know to come. McCoy was hugely successful; between 1867 and 1872, three million cattle were driven along the Chisholm Trail. 

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