On The Trail

by Frank Maynard

It was down across the Brazos
That we rounded up to start,
With about five thousand cattle
For the busy Kansas mart;
There were just a dozen cowboys
With a greasy coon for cook,
Flour, coffee, beans, and bacon
Were the chief supplies we took;
And we thrived upon this diet,
For none of us grew pale,
But our hot, red blood ran riot
Upon the Texas trail.

It was in the rainy season,
There were swollen streams to cross,
But we boldly plunged into them,
And we suffered little loss;
There were long days' drives and weary,
As we pushed the herd along;
There were long night guards and dreary,
But we passed them with a song.
When at last, we reached Red River,
There was blowing quite a gale,
But we swam its turbid waters,
Ever onward up the trail.

What cared we for wind or weather,
For our hearts were young and gay,
And we all joined in together
For a good time on the way.
Now we traveled through a country
Where they little recked of law,
Indians and rustlers plenty
Till we crossed the Washita.
Yet the outlaws they were plenty,
Men who should have been in jail,
And we kept a constant vigil,
As we pressed on up the trail.

We had reached the north Canadian,
And everything seemed well,
Till at night the Redskins charged us
With a most infernal yell:
'Twas our cattle they were after,
And away in mad stampede
Went the herd of long-horned beef steers,
While we galloped for the lead,
And our foreman hoarsely shouted:
"Stay with 'em, do not fail."
And we circled 'em and milled 'em,
Upon the Texas trail.

Then the Redskins, disappointed,
Slyly sneaked off in the night,
And we kept our eyes wide open
Until dawn of morning light.
Then our trip was uneventful,
Till one evening just at dark,
Jim and Charley had a quarrel
And their guns began to bark.
Jim was quickest on the trigger
And his nerve it did not quail,
And poor Charley lies a sleeping,
Where we laid him by the trail.

Crossing Cimarron and Bluff Creek,
Soon Dodge City loomed in view,
Dodge, the wicked western city,
Painted oft a crimson hue,
There a horde of hard-faced gamblers
Waited each with sure-thing game,
To ensnare some verdant sucker,
And not anything was tame.
There was big Tom Sherman's dance-hall,
And Bat Masterson's, more swell,
And you need not go much farther,
For to find a little— well,
The least said is the better
About some things in this tale,
For conditions they were awful,
At the ending of the trail.

Now and then some foolish puncher
Would try to play Wild Bill,
And so quickly they would plant him
On a place they called Boot Hill.
But now all this is over,
For those wild days are no more,
Where once roamed the free Vacqueros,
There are homesteads by the score,
And perchance some pretty milkmaid
Goes singing with her pail,
Where we rounded up and bedded,
Upon the Texas trail.

On Boot Hill they've built a schoolhouse
And the W.C.T.U.
Holds an annual convention,
Where once corks and stoppers flew;
There are sermons, there is singing,
Where was pistol crack and flame.
Dodge, the erstwhile wicked city,
Has built up a better name,
And the lamb now skips and gambols
Were was heard the grey wolf's wail,
The survival of the fittest,
Marks the ending of the trail.

Last updated April 06, 2023