Today, some historians consider the Chisholm Trail to have started at the Rio Grande in Texas or at San Antonio, Texas. From 1867 to 1871, the trail ended in Abilene, Kansas. Later, Newton, Kansas, and Wichita, Kansas, each served as the end of the trail. From 1883 to 1887, the end of the trail was Caldwell, Kansas. Ellsworth, Kansas, is also considered a major influence of the trail.
The Chisholm Trail was a trail used in the late 19th century to drive cattle overland from ranches in Texas to Kansas railheads. The portion of the trail marked by Jesse Chisholm went from his southern trading post near the Red River, to his northern trading post near Kansas City, Kansas. Texas ranchers using the Chisholm Trail started on that route from either the Rio Grande or San Antonio, Texas, and went to the railhead of the Kansas Pacific Railway in Abilene, Kansas, where the cattle would be sold and shipped eastward.
The trail is named for Jesse Chisholm, who had built several trading posts in what is now western Oklahoma before the American Civil War. Immediately after the war, he and the Lenape Black Beaver collected stray Texas cattle and drove them to railheads over the Chisholm Trail, shipping them back East to feed citizens, where beef commanded much higher prices than in the West.
A branch of the Chisholm Trail sometimes used by settlers also went into Colorado and to Cheyenne, Wyoming where it joined the Oregon Trail, California Trail, and Mormon Trail.