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Tick fever helps end cattle-trailing era despite ranchers' efforts


On this date in 1884, a prominent group of Texas cattlemen met in St. Louis to attempt to thwart plans of northern interests to quarantine Texas cattle. Texas fever, caused by ticks indigenous to the Southwest, had inflicted heavy losses upon the northern range-cattle industry by the early 1880s, and these losses had caused northern cattlemen (roughly all those north of the thirty-second parallel) to lobby for state and territorial quarantines against infected livestock. The Texans at the St. Louis meeting sought to evade this quarantine by drafting a resolution calling for Congress to build and maintain a National Trail from Doan's Crossing on the Red River through Indian Territory, Colorado, Nebraska, Wyoming, South Dakota, and Montana. On January 6, 1886, Texas congressman James Francis Miller introduced the National Trail proposal to the U.S. House of Representatives. The measure failed, and northern quarantines, western migration, and barbed wire fences ended cattle trailing.

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