The End of the Chisholm Trail

The only business in Fortuna, ND. Very popular.

The only business in Fortuna, ND. Very popular.

As part of our business, a couple of people from my small company go in and out of southern Saskatchewan, frequently driving across the border north of Williston, North Dakota. The last bit of civilization, if you can call it that, is Fortuna, ND, after which you arrive at the Ambrose/Torquay crossing. This would definitely be a Crappy Place to Be From, but I don’t know enough about to really say for sure. The deer seem to like it, at least in the winter.  It was about -20 C when I was there. Bright, and cold.

The deep snow drifts of winter eventually gave way to spring’s  tall prairie grasses, but in July, the roadsides were mowed, and a sign appeared.  To a native Texan, this really will catch your eye. Why is this sign, of all things, sitting on the side of the road, a few feet short of the Canadian border crossing?

Sign reads "Going Up the Texas Chisholm Trail"

Sign reads “Going Up the Texas Chisholm Trail”

The Chisholm Trail was the main trail for the Old West cattle drives that brought untold numbers of Texas longhorn cattle from grazing lands in Mexico, through Texas and Oklahoma to the great slaughterhouses and rail depots in Abilene, Kansas. The cattle ranches of the Dakota territories served the other end of this great cattle trail. (The famous John Wayne movie, Red River, is a fictional tale of the early trail. The actual Red River forms much of the north-south border between Texas and Oklahoma.)

Longhorn Grazing

Longhorn Grazing (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Doing some research on the little sign, I found this picture, labeled as having been posted in a ‘local newspaper’ in 1967.

lost trail

The research attributes the signs to an Oklahoma rancher, who in 1934 placed the signs on the trail from Texas to the border to mark the old Chisholm trail with attractive signs, all the way from Texas to Abilene, and on thru the northern branch to the Canadian border. He added the “end of the trail” banner to this last sign.

It’s sometimes difficult to find interesting things in rural areas, but occasionally you will find things, if you keep your eyes open.

No idea why this is lying in the middle of town

No idea why this is lying in the middle of town

The Last Lonely Church in northern North Dakota

The Last Lonely Church in northern North Dakota

Categories: History, Travel

Tags: , , , , , ,

3 replies

  1. 🙂 Any mention of Dakota and trails, and I’m immediately channelling my inner Laura Ingalls. I know they lived in South Dakota, but even so…… Thank you!

  2. I have a pic for you from 1962 of the chisolm trail sign with my mom and neighbor when we lived at the border crossing at Ambrose. Send me your email.


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