Trail group to host ‘bullwhackers’ program

The Cottonwood Crossing Chapter of the Santa Fe Trail Association will host ?A Bullwhacker?s Life Freighting Supplies Over the Plains? at 7 p.m. Thursday, July 18, at the Goessel City Building, one-half block south of the intersection of Main and Cedar streets.

Jim Gray will be the featured presenter and discussion leader. He is a sixth-generation Kansan who co-founded the COWBOY (Cockeyed Old West Band Of Yahoos) Society to promote and preserve Kansas?s cowboy heritage through the bimonthly newspaper, Kansas Cowboy.

He is the author of ?Desperate Seed: Ellsworth Kansas on the Violent Frontier? and writes the newspaper column ?The Way West.?

Bullwhackers traveled the Kansas frontier freighting supplies and shaping a profession akin to today?s long-haul truck drivers.

Traveling the Santa Fe, Cali?fornia-Oregon and Smoky Hill trails, commercial and independent bullwhackers walked beside their ox-drawn wagons, courting danger with every trip.

Gray will discuss the many troubles they faced and their vital role in the developing frontier.

?In the popular culture of the Old West most wagon train stories are of immigrants traveling west in search of a better life,? Gray said. ?For some reason the commercial freighting operations have been largely forgotten. I felt that the bullwhacker deserved his place in Kansas history.?

The public is invited to attend the free program, which is made possible by the Kansas Humanities Council.

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