Millions of cattle and horses were driven up the Great Western Cattle Trail from Texas to Canada from the 1870s to the 1890s.   

The trail, that begins in Texas and runs North all the way to Fort Buford near present day Williston, North Dakota, has been marked every five to six miles with concrete obelisks in Texas and Oklahoma. North Dakota will be the third state to complete the project. Other states along the route are making plans to join efforts to the mark the trail.  

North Dakota Great Western Trail Chair Darrell Dorgan says volunteers placed obelisks and black marble markers from the South Dakota border to Belfield last summer and notes plans this summer call for the trail to be marked with concrete obelisks and marble markers from Belfield to Fort Buford the last weekend in June.  

Dorgan says, “Volunteers are being recruited, the obelisks have been made and donated by Dickinson Ready Mix. With luck and good weather we can do the 100-mile plus stretch in two days and will celebrate the end of the project with a program at Fort Buford the afternoon of June 27th”.

Former NDSU President Jim Ozbun, placed the first trail marker at the North Dakota Cowboy Hall of Fame in Medora eight years ago.  Ozbun says Senator John Hoeven and Governor Doug Burgum have been invited to participate in the event.
Ozbun’s grandfather rode the Great Western Cattle Trail in the late 1800s as a drover and Ozbun has been a key player in getting the trail marked through North Dakota.

Spots for the markers have been committed from Belfield to Watford City and work with ranchers and landowners from Watford City to Williston for the other needed sites will begin in April.

Rotarian Sylvia Mahoney of Fort Worth, Texas has been working on the project for nearly 15 years and recently completed the following history of the historic Trail.  

Full history of the Great Western Cattle Trail by Sylvia Mahoney