We talked a little about The Chisholm Trail last time, but just like Dodge City wasn’t the only Cow Town, the Chisholm Trail wasn’t the only trail to get beef to market.
The Goodnight-Loving Trail was one of those trails.
Charles Goodnight and Oliver Loving drove their first herd of longhorn cattle over the Butterfield Overland Mail route from near Fort Belknap via the Middle Concho River and Castle Gap, to Horsehead (on some old maps marked Dead Horse) Crossing. They left the mail route there and worked up the Pecos, crossing it from time to time as the terrain and watering places required. They drove a second herd, bought from John S. Chi sum, from his Concho River range to Fort Sumner later that same summer.
The northern extension of the Goodnight-Loving Trail was first blazed by Loving in the fall of 1866.
In the spring of 1868 Goodnight entered into a contract with John Wesley Iliff in which he agreed to deliver his cattle to Iliff at the Union Pacific Railroad town of Cheyenne, Wyoming.
Afterward delivery of the cattle, Goodnight and his men went back to New Mexico to buy more cattle from Chisholm at Bosque Grande.
Goodnight opened a new, easier passageway through Tinchera Pass into Colorado.
The Goodnight-Loving Trail was thus routed, and although Goodnight himself made only one more delivery at Cheyenne, many cattle concerns from Texas, New Mexico, and Colorado used all or portions of the trail extensively until the advent of railroads in the Southwest in the early 1880s. The trail was sometimes known simply as the Goodnight Trail.