For Mary Lou Rivers, it has been a long campaign.
In 2003, she began a simple-enough quest — to mark the historic Chisholm Trail as it ran through downtown Wichita.
This past week, her quest was completed.
Chisholm Trail street signs are placed on every block of Douglas from Walnut in Delano to Mead by Union Station.
Never miss a local story.
The signs will be there permanently. No Douglas Avenue signs were removed.
Aaron Henning, maintenance engineer with Wichita’s public works and utilities, said the city finished installing the signs last week.
This year marks the 150th anniversary of the Chisholm Trail. Beginning in 1867, vast herds of cattle were driven up the Chisholm Trail from Texas to the cowtowns of Kansas. The trail is named after Jesse Chisholm, who had a trading post in Wichita and frequently traded with American Indian tribes throughout much of the region.
Rivers serves as Sedgwick County’s 150th Chisholm Trail chairwoman.
“It’s to let people know,” Rivers said. “I was in Kansas City where they have the Santa Fe Trail marked, and I thought why don’t we have that in Wichita. It doesn’t take much to make a brown street sign.”
She has been trying for 14 years to have the signs mark where the historic trail ran in downtown Wichita.
In its heyday from the late 1860s through the 1880s, the Chisholm Trail stretched roughly from Lockhart, Texas, to Abilene, and served as a cattle pipeline leading herds from the Texas ranches to the stockyards and railroad hubs in Abilene, Newton, Wichita and Caldwell. The herds were driven 750 to 1,200 miles.
The trail was an economic lifeline for Kansas, helping to promote the railroad and make ranching profitable. In Wichita alone — which was incorporated in 1870 — more than 230,000 head of cattle were shipped out from 1872 to 1876.
“I am just thrilled to death they are finally up,” Rivers said on Sunday.