Bob Funk & The Chisholm Trail Part I

Its been a great four days and now I’m winding down the second day at the gun show…..

Welcome back. For Will Rogers fans, last Saturday morning marked the anniversary of his death and every year a celebration is held in his memory at the Dog Iron Ranch. A grass air strip sits next to the house Will was born in and planes of every kind fly in from all over the country for the event. This is a regular layover for me if I’m in the area and this year the good weather drew big crowds and lots of planes. There were bi-planes, planes from World Wars I and II, experimental ultra-lights and even several helicopters. With plenty of food vendors, Will Rogers souvenirs, guided tours of the house, trains rides for the kids and dozens of tame animals all wanting to be petted, people of all ages had a great time. If you missed it don’t worry, this is an annual event and friends this party doesn’t cost a dime to attend.

On the road this week I’m traveling the same trail that Texas cattlemen followed going north to Abilene, Kansas back in 1853 when cattle prices for longhorn cattle in Texas were $4 a head compared to over $40 a head in Missouri. It was a rough life and a dangerous job for those cowboys as encounters with vigilantes, rustlers and hostile Indians were common. According to Wikipedia, by the end of the civil war most cattle drives started at the Red River in College Station, Texas but other historians claim that this famous cattle trail started further south around San Antonio. By now, with over 27 movies out about it, I’m sure at least some of you know I’m talking about the Chisholm Trail. If you believe the film versions, I’m riding down the same trail that John Wayne and Montgomery Cliff took in the 1948 classic movie Red River. Walter Brennan and Randolph Scott fought rustlers along the trail in the 1938 film The Texans and dozens of songs have been written about the trail by the likes of Gene Autry, Woody Guthrie, Tex Ritter and Roy Rogers.

I also learned that there are at least eight schools named Chisholm Trail and several towns along the trail hold big festivals that last for days. Ok, so what am I doing here? Well here’s a little news you may find interesting. By next week’s column, a life size bronze statue of Oklahoma philanthropist and businessman Bob Funk sitting on his favorite horse will have been dedicated at a site along the original Chisholm Trail just outside of Yukon, Oklahoma. I’ll grab a photo and bring you all the details next week. I’ll also be telling you more about the world’s richest cow sale which starts Friday outside of Yukon and where music legend Kenny Rogers will be performing for guests. After all that what else? Well during the day Saturday and Sunday I’ll be with OU great Joe Washington at the Grand National Gun Show at the Tulsa Fairgrounds. With everything going on with the upcoming election, show promotors tell me they expect big crowds.

I hope to see you somewhere along the way but if not, tell next time I’ll see ya down the road….

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