Watford City in McKenzie County, North Dakota — The American Midwest (Upper Plains)
Good grass and shelter attracted ranching interests to the badlands. Taking advantage of the void left by the killing of the bison, a Texas trail drive pushed 4,000 head of longhorn cattle into this region in the fall of 1884. Other trail drives followed, bringing thousands of longhorns. Hardy animals, longhorns fared well on the long walk from Texas. Turned loose on the open range, they adapted quickly and were ready for market in two years.
Twenty years later, the longhorns had almost vanished from the Northern Plains. Overgrazing and severe winters had taken their toll on the open range cattle industry. By the early 1900’s, ranchers were replacing longhorns with newer, more productive breeds of cattle. Fortunately, a few people intervened to save the longhorn from extinction.
Today you may see a small herd of 10-25 longhorn steers in the North Unit. Obtained from Fort Niobrara National Wildlife Refuge in Nebraska, the herd is maintained as a reminder of the bygone open range cattle era.
“Old Joe Clark has got a cow -
She was muley born.
It takes a jay bird forty-eight hours
To fly from horn
(Old Texas folksong)
Erected by National Park Service.
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Animals • Industry & Commerce.
Location. 47° 35.469′ N, 103° 17.398′ W. Marker is in Watford City, North Dakota, in McKenzie County. Marker is on Scenic Drive, on the left when traveling north. Marker is located at the Longhorn Pullout in the North Unit of Theodore Roosevelt National Park. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Watford City ND 58854, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 5 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Slump Formation (approx. 0.6 miles away); Walter H. Chaloner (approx. 1.8 miles away); “Cannon Ball” Concretions (approx. 2 miles away); Long X Cattle Trail (approx. 2.7 miles away); Badlands Panorama (approx. 2.8 miles away); North Dakota Badlands (approx. 2.9 miles away); The View that Launched a Park (approx. 4.3 miles away); Building From Hard Times (approx. 4.3 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Watford City.
More about this marker. A picture of longhorns on the range appears at the bottom of the marker.
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. It was originally submitted on September 14, 2015, by Bill Coughlin of Woodland Park, New Jersey. This page has been viewed 221 times since then and 4 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4. submitted on September 14, 2015, by Bill Coughlin of Woodland Park, New Jersey.