The Western Cattle Trail Association will tickle the imagination with Tales of the Trail on Friday, Oct. 19 at the National Guard Armory in McCook.

Imagine standing beside your dugout on a hot summer day and seeing 2,500 cattle, an armada of horses and a bunch of noisy cowboys kicking up dust as they make their way north.

The noise, dust and trembling of the earth made it impossible to ignore. As one herd passes, the dust of the next herd can be seen in the distance.

This is what settlers experienced as 5 million head of cattle and 1 million horses moved north from Texas to start ranches, feed the Indian population and meet the railroad.

As more farmers moved their families farther west each year, the Western Trail participants found it harder and harder to find a level path where they could find food and water for livestock, and no settlers.

Therefore, the Western Trail moved farther west to avoid civilization, irate housewives and, yes, even fences, creating various routes through southwest Nebraska.

The Western Trail had a short but colorful history from 1874-97.  It was longer, lasted more years and handled more cattle than any other.

The Western Cattle Trail Association was formed to preserve the history of the trail.

The first annual Western Cattle Trail Roundup will be held in McCook, from Oct. 18-21.  It will be an opportunity for imaginations to soar with excitement as to how life might have been on the Western Trail, organizer Pam Potthoff said. Participants will be able to walk part of the actual trail on Saturday, Oct. 20.

Registration forms are available from Bill Zahl of Stratton at 308-276-2672 or 308-340-5601 or