The tiny border community of Caldwell, Kansas has a rich history thanks to the Chisholm Trail; from 1866 to 1887, millions of head of cattle entered Kansas a cow pie’s throw from what is today the center of town. In 1893 it was also a jumping-off point for the Cherokee Strip land rush in neighboring Oklahoma.
General carousing and lawlessness was the order of the day in the “Border Queen City,” but things are considerably quieter now.
Two miles south of town on a small bluff above the railroad tracks is a metal silhouette tribute to the Chisholm Trail cowboys and cattle, pioneers and Plains Indians. It was a volunteer project completed in 1995 and is probably ideally seen at dawn or dusk for best effect against the sky – the figures are riding along what was the actual Trail.
There is also a lot of metal and silhouette work in town, including on the entrance to the town’s Opera House.
There’s a cattle drive-related mural in the post office, too, part of the Kansas Sampler Foundation’s tour of Kansas Post Office Section Art from the Great Depression.
Caldwell sits slightly to the west of Interstate 35, just north of the Oklahoma-Kansas border, and is worth a detour if you’re tired of looking at miles and miles of miles and miles.
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