“Old Blue”

14H x 21L x 11W
Edition 40

Eleven million head of cattle were driven north from Texas between 1865 and 1874.   This was the largest migration of animals under the direction of man in the history of the world and many of the drovers became American legends. My ancestor, Colonel Charles Goodnight, is one of those legends.  His biographer, Evetts Haley, writes that Goodnight didn’t give a hoot for his own legacy but he wanted everyone to know of the feats of his remarkable lead steer, Old Blue.

Goodnight’s friend, J. Frank Dobie, took up the cause and tells Blue’s story in his classic book “the Longhorns” written in 1941.   Dobie writes “Old Blue was known from the Pecos to the Arkansas, in Colorado as well as in Texas. He knew the trail to Dodge City better than hundreds of cowboys who galloped up Front Street.

Old Blue was so tame that he was fitted with a leather neck strap and a shiny brass bell.  The steers soon learned to follow the sound of Blue’s bell.  A little strap was attached to quiet the bell clabber at night.  Dobie states that when it was time to travel, Blue would nose his way to one of the Point Men to have the clapper loosened.  “He would give a toss of head, and a switch of his tail, and head north.”

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