COLEMAN, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – Beginning in the late 1800s the “Great Western Trail” moved anywhere from 7 to 9 million longhorns across the united states. Starting from northern Mexico and ending in southern Canada, it is this historic trail that author and Rotary club member Sylvia Mahoney and her peers have worked for years to identify and recognize.
“We have 300 Great Western Trail posts from Mexico across the nine Great Plains states into Canada,” Mahoney says.
Her 2015 book Finding the Great Western Trail details their mission to track down the paths taken by the early cattle drivers and construct trial markers all along the way.
“I feel a major responsibility to do my share to see that what they worked on will continue to be there,” says Mahoney.
This drive brought livestock to hungry Native American Tribes and left behind the seeds of what would one day become many of the ranches and cities we know today.
“I think it’s great that we are a part of the whole, if you will,” says Coleman local and historical reenactor Joe Watson.
Watson came to the dedication dressed in full 1870s cattle baron regalia. He says his outfit is meant to point out to the history present in the very land they stood on.
“I want to make sure we bring attention to the history in Coleman County and throughout Texas,” Watson says.
It’s that history that connects every person along the trail, according to Mahoney. She says she feels a kinship that goes beyond borders at every dedication she’s been to.
“I have friends from Mexico to Canada that I cherish as dearly as family,” says Mahoney.
Which is why she now advocates for a bill introduced by North Dakota U.S. Senator John Hoeven, which aims to nationally recognize the trail from Mexico to Canada as a Historic American Trail. Though a bill introduced in Kansas may stand opposed to that goal. This bill would recognize the Kansas portion of the trail separately.
“If they get their bill approved, the trails stop at Kansas and all of the northern states will be left out,” Mahoney says.
Which has prompted her call to action asking all that will to call their representatives and speak in favor of the national trail, so that all who claim it as part of their history can be included.
“The people in Mexico are just as connected to the trail as the Canadians and as we are. We have a bond and a friendship that is just nothing like I’ve ever been involved with,” Mahoney says.