Welcome To KEY TO THE CITY's Page For
Custer County, Oklahoma
As far as can be ascertained, the first herd to move up the Western, or Dodge City Trail was in 1874. Four years later, C. F. Doan, a former Ohio Citizen and trader at Fort Sill, established a store near the point where the Trail crossed the Red River from Texas into Oklahoma Territory. In crossing Oklahoma from south to north after leaving Doan's Crossing, the Trail went a few miles east of present day Altus, west of Hobart, east of Elk City, west of Woodward, and west of Buffalo.
Probably the peak year for moving cattle up this trail was in 1881, when 301,000 head crossed the Oklahoma prairies in about 100 herds. Each herd averaged about 3,000 cattle. It took 10 men to handle such a herd and each cowboy required about 7 horses. This meant in a year's time about 300,000 head of cattle, 7,000 horses, and 1,000 men traversed the Great Plains of Oklahoma as they moved from the Texas ranges and ranches to the railroad at Dodge City.
Land openings and range fencing in Oklahoma, along with the building of railroads into Texas, caused the great WESTERN CATTLE TRAIL to cease to exist about 1888.
In the nineteen or twenty years of the Trail's existence, more than seven million cattle moving north waded or swam the Red River at Doan's Crossing, and waded or swam the Washita River near present day Thomas and the South and North Canadian Rivers farther north. This was more than traversed the fabled Chisholm Trail 100 miles to the east.
Miscellany The population of Thomas was:
1990 - 1,246
2000 - 1,238
2004 - 1,162