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Kansas State University

October 2, 2012

Frontier program partners with National Drover’s Hall of Fame to create traveling exhibit celebrating the cattle-drive era

Ellsworth’s National Drover’s Hall of Fame, in partnership with an historical-studies group at Kansas State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine, the Frontier program, announces plans to celebrate the Chisholm Trail, the Great Western Trail, and other “north-south” cattle trails that fuelled the economic and social healing of post-Civil War America

The National Drovers Hall of Fame (NDHF), a Kansas-based organization formed in 2003, seeks to establish in Ellsworth a museum honoring the drovers, cattle and horses, men and women, railroads, and cowtowns that accompanied the cattle drive era—arguably one of the key periods in American history.

“We have a vision to celebrate the cattle trade’s role in healing a divided nation wounded by the pains of Civil War,” says Jeanne Plett, chair of the Board for the NDHF.

The National Drovers Hall of Fame will partner with the Frontier program, an historical-studies unit based in the Department of Diagnostic Medicine/Pathobiology in Kansas State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine.   Led by Dr. Justin Kastner, an associate professor at K-State, the Frontier program recently superintended a book project (150 Years of Kansas Beef, Donning Company Publishers, 2011), which featured chapters on the cattle drive era, cowboy culture, and the beef trade.

With a view to promote heritage appreciation, the NDHF and the Frontier program envision the creation of a travelling exhibit devoted to the economic, social, and cultural history of the cattle drive era.  The exhibit, still to be developed, would “travel” during 2015-2017, appearing in multiple museums and public settings along the Texas-Kansas “cattle trail corridors,” including the Texas cattle trails that fed into the Chisholm Trail and the Great Western Trail. The travelling exhibit would then be permanently housed in the NDHF’s Ellsworth-based museum in 2017. The year 2017 is significant, for it marks the 150th anniversary of the opening of the Chisholm Trail.

The NDHF is eager to partner with a wide range of museums and historical societies—inside and outside of Kansas—located along the Chisholm and Great Western Trail corridors.  Those interested in participating should contact Jeanne Plett or Ken Wasserman (see below for contact information).

Involving historical museums in the project will help leverage local interest in the travelling exhibit, and inspire additional educational and heritage-appreciation activities during 2015-2017.  One such example, Dr. Kastner says, is found in Hobart, Oklahoma; the Kiowa County Historical Museum in Hobart is situated along the Great Western Trail and will be one of the “host sites” for the eventual travelling exhibit.

“The cattle-drive era is truly an American story, and there is much to celebrate—particularly in the states of Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, and Nebraska, all of which were economically and socially invested in the life and story of the cattle trails,” Dr. Kastner says.

Key contacts:

Dr. Justin Kastner, associate professor and co-director
Frontier program
Kansas State University
Manhattan, Kansas 66506  
jkastner@k-state.edu 785-532-4820

Jeanne Plett, Chair, National Drover’s Hall of Fame (NDHF)
P.O. Box 415, Ellsworth, Kansas 67439
jeannep63@yahoo.com (316) 250-8926

Ken Wasserman, Chair, NDHF fundraising committee
213 S. Santa Fe
Salina, Kansas 67401-2388   
kww@nwjklaw.com (785) 827-3646