Friday, April 01, 2016

'Western Cattle Trail' authors on tap at Brush Museum Sack Lunch

Nearly 50 years ago, Kansas teacher Gary Kraisinger first felt the ruts that would inspire a life-long interest, and eventually a duo of books, on his captivation with the cattle trails. He revealed to Hutchinson News reporter Amy Bickel last year that as he rode along with a rancher on his property in Kansas during the mid-1960s, their vehicle took to a crisscross over a washboard that shook the tires, and roped in a whole new world of inquiry for Gary. "What was that?" he remembers asking. "I used to think it was wagon tracks," the rancher replied, "but now, I'm convinced that cattle did it." Thus began a quest that took Gary, and his wife, Margaret, on an adventure that would journey the couple through countless hours of research on the historical cattle trail that ran north and south through Kansas. Although more than 6 million cattle and horses had travelled on the trail over the years, few humans had prior knowledge of it. The couple worked together to complete their first book on that very trail through Kansas in 2004, but it left readers wondering why the two didn't delve into the entire trail history, stretching from South Texas to Canada.  In April 2004, as officials began to consider making the path a national trail, the Kraisingers published their second book, "The Western Cattle Trail, 1874-1897: Its Rise, Collapse and Revival" after several years of research. Written in three parts, with maps for each area, the book chronicles the trail-driving industry itself and how the Western Trail rose to be the largest trail-driving system for cattle. "If no one had written about it," noted Gary, "it would have been lost to time," adding that thanks to their research and others' efforts to get the trail recognized, "A lot of people know where it is now." The Kraisingers have also been recognized by the National Parks Service for their 30 years of research and were inducted into the Kansas Cowboy Hall of Fame in October 2015 as noted historians. On April 16, they will receive the Western Heritage Award for the non-fiction book for 2015 by the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City...more

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