Day Trips: Chisholm Trail Heritage Museum, Cuero

Chisholm Trail rides again


Photos by Gerald E. McLeod

The Chisholm Trail Heritage Museum in Cuero digs up the roots of the famous cattle trail. 

At the end of the Civil War, between 3 million and 6 million herds of cattle roamed the South Texas plains. Trailing cattle north from Texas saw its heyday from 1866 to 1890. Cuero was a major staging area for herds headed for Kansas.


The truth was that the trail drives were long, hard work. Using letters, journals, and reminiscences, the museum presents the unvarnished stories of participants, many of them former slaves. The story is told through local family heirlooms and storyboards written by Texas historian Lonn Taylor

Much of Robert Oliver's personal collection of Texas artifacts went into the museum, along with his energies. As chair of the museum board, Oliver says that a lot of people made the history center – which began as an idea in 2000 and opened its doors in 2013 – a reality.


In addition to the story of the cattle drives, the museum has the "Horsemen of the Americas" Tinker Collection on permanent loan from the Harry Ransom Center at UT. Most recently, the museum added an exhibit of the artistry of spurs. In a back gallery is the story of the Sutton-Taylor Feud – including John Wesley Hardin's pistol – a bloody clan war that still divides members of the community, Oliver says. 

The Chisholm Trail Heritage Museum is at 302 N. Esplanade in Cuero. Doors are open Tuesday through Saturday from 10am-4:30pm. Admission is $5 for adults. Through Nov. 17, the museum offers a rare look at a private art collection that includes Andy Warhol's "Cowboys and Indians" series and other Western art. 


1,472nd in a series. Follow “Day Trips & Beyond,” a travel blog, at austinchronicle.com/daily/travel.

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