Oliver Loving and Charlie Goodnight “The Greatest Cattle Drive”
As new territories opened up in the 1870s and settlers began trickling west, two old partners Oliver Loving and Charlie Goodnight left their dusty south Texas ranch and pointed their saddles north. After the Civil War, a massive roundup took place over most of Texas to gather steer that had roamed free, and from this Loving and Goodnight massed an impressive herd. With expansion happening over the horizon, they became the first men ever to herd cattle north out of Texas, bringing much-needed beef to reservations, outposts and fledgling towns. The trail they blazed spanned four states and over two-thirds of the entire country north-to-south. They crossed rivers that cows had never crossed and drove through wild Comanche territories where even the army stayed forted up. On the trail Loving would ride ahead securing contracts, while his partner followed behind with the herd, cowboying several thousand head of cattle at a time.
Embodying the adventure and enterprise that came to shape the “civilizing” of the west, the two friends drove their herds across the map, carving a route soon followed by other cattlemen; for nearly half a century the road they forged was the most heavily traveled stock trail in the southwest, and Oliver Loving and Charlie Goodnight built one of the first cattle ranches in Wyoming.