Peggy Ables, Betty Olson and Paul Higbee kicked off the season for the Spearfish Area Historical Society on Sept 2, 2014 at the High Plains Western Heritage Center. Over 80 people were in attendance.Did you know that the cowboys who ran cattle from Texas to South Dakota were, for the most part, 13 and 14 year old boys? (answer: they were) Did you know why they went so far north as South Dakota? (answer: because after the Civil War, the livestock needed to be grazed and the short-growing season in SD locks in nutrients in the grasses for cattle). Did you know that Great Western Cattle Trail markers were dedicated this July 2014 at the Heritage Center in Spearfish and at the Tri-State Museum in Belle Fourche? (answer: Yup! They were.)
Western South Dakota can claim a large part of the history of the Great Western Cattle Trails that ran from Texas and New Mexico through Oklahoma, Kansas, Colorado, and Nebraska and ended in Wyoming, Montana and South Dakota. Peggy Ables told stories of this year's July event hosting the Great Western Cattle Trail Association members. Betty Olson told of her legislature that was unanimously approved for an un-paid holiday in South Dakota on the 4th Sat in July to celebrate the Day of the American Cowboy. Paul Higbee described how many, many cowboys came to the area on a cattle drive and then decided to stay and live in Lawrence, Butte and Meade counties. Some of them included Tom Gay, Zee Russell, Leo Russell, Billy Sutton, and Slim McNutton.See three original saddles from the cattle trail and learn more at the High Plains Western Heritage Center.