In 1874 Captain John T. Lytle and several cowboys left South Texas with 3,500 head of longhorn cattle and a remuda of saddle horses. Five years later, the route Lytle cut out of the prairie to Ft. Robinson, Nebraska, had become the most significant cattle trail in history – the Great Western Cattle Trail.
Though less well known than the Chisholm Trail, the Great Western Cattle Trail was longer in length and carried cattle for two years longer than the Chisholm. The Great Western saw over seven million cattle and horses pass through Texas and Oklahoma to the railheads in Kansas and Nebraska, therefore, developing the cattle industry as far north as Wyoming and Montana. A typical head would move 10 -12 miles a day and included the trail boss, a wrangler, and a cook. The drive from South Texas to Kansas took about two months at a cost of $1000 in wages and provisions. At the end of the trail, cattle sold for $1.00 to $1.50 per head. In Texas, feeder trails from the Rio Grande led to the trailhead near Bandera and the Great Western passed through, Kerrville, Junction, Brady, Coleman, Baird, Albany and Fort Griffin. It is believed that the main streets of Throckmorton, Seymour, and Vernon run north and south because of the trail. Vernon’s 19th Century history is closely bound to the Red River crossing some 15 miles north.
Corwin Doan operated a store at this point and supplied cowboys with all they needed to survive the trip. This is where an estimated six million Longhorn cattle crossed on their way to the railheads in Dodge City, Kansas. The fencing of the west and the invention of barbed wire, put an end to the cattle drives that brought Texas back from the economic collapse brought upon by the Civil War.
Doans, TX, is north of Vernon in Wilbarger County. Drive north about 12 miles on Highway 283 to Ranch Road 2916, turn east and drive 3 miles to Ranch Road 924. At that intersection is a large granite marker with ranch brands covering the front face.
This smaller marker next to it.
Across the road, to the northwest, is an old adobe building.
This building is the same one built by Corwin Doan and used as a store during the cattle drives up the Great Western Cattle Trail. It has a historical marker here also.
If you look inside (the building is locked) you can see some of the old furnishings.
There is another marker out front with information of next of kin.
One last look at the building as we drove away.