Hatteberg's People - The Drovers

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Sunday, September 18, 2011

On this week's Hatteberg's People, as part of the Kansas Sesquicentennial, many of you have been watching the progress of the historic 200-mile long cattle drive from Caldwell to Ellsworth. It's over a trail that hasn't been used since 1875. Our story begins with the words of Alan Pohlman, a descendent of Titus Buckbee who established the Cox trail back in the 1800s. On that trail, longhorn cattle are once again making history.

"You gotta love it to do it. Just the smells and everything of it is pretty amazing. Just getting up in the mornings and the sunrise and chuck wagons, and getting out on the trail. It is very satisfying. A lot of us wish we could have been back in the day when all this took place," said Pohlman.

It was Caldwell's 140th anniversary, and what better place to begin the trail ride than this old historic cattle town. The turnout was huge as longhorns thundered down the historic streets just as they did in the 1800s. Mike Clover is the cowboy in charge.

"It's a once in a lifetime and I don't know if we'll ever do this trail again. It takes a lot of work and a lot of time to put something like this together. If you are into historical stuff and how things used to be, then this is the cat's meow right here," said Clover.

At camp in the evening after long days on the trail, it's a time to reflect. The cowboys and cowgirls on the drive are no strangers to this lifestyle. For them, these days are just about perfect.

"You lose track of time, I mean you go at the cattle's pace. You go however fast or slow they go, you don't have any idea if it is going to rain tomorrow or tonight. You don't have any TV or anything, you are just at the mercy of the cows," said cowgirl Marlene Abel.

The light lingers just enough to paint the sky. Folks like Jim Gray have devoted their life to the history of the old west. Living in Ellsworth, he publishes a newspaper called The Kansas Cowboy. Out on the prairie, the history is dusty and real.

"It's the 'wholeness' of what you are doing. It is the sky and it's your horse and it's your connection with all of that and the cattle. So there really is no 'best' part. It's all wonderful," said Gray.

Between 200 and 400 head of cattle are making the 21-day drive. They're making history and for cowgirl and drover Tammie Durfey, this trip is a blessing.

"You're living a dream. How can it get any better? I grew up on the ranches, and I've done everything in the world with horses and cattle. This is the ultimate," said Durfey.

The drive has been going through many Kansas communities so folks can witness the history of the Old West. The Kansas 150th Annual Cattle Drive ends September 24 in Ellsworth, Kansas.

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