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K-State Today

May 17, 2017



K-Stater's poem selected for Symphony in the Flint Hills Field Journal

By Ron Wilson

"The Historic Chisholm Trail," a poem by Ron Wilson, director of K-State's Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development, has been selected for inclusion in the 2017 Field Journal of the Symphony in the Flint Hills.

"The 12th annual Symphony in the Flint Hills will take place in Geary County on June 10," Wilson said. "The theme of the symphony this year is the Chisholm Trail, because 2017 marks the 150th anniversary since the Chisholm Trail began. I am honored that this cowboy poem was selected for inclusion in the Field Journal."

The journal is produced by the Symphony in the Flint Hills each year to accompany the signature event, which is a concert performance by the Kansas City orchestra in a natural Flint Hills setting. An estimated 6,000 people will participate in the event.

"Symphony in the Flint Hills Field Journals celebrate the history, culture, and ecology of the last stand of the Tallgrass Prairie through art, essays, and poetry," said Sandy Dorsey, education/volunteer coordinator for Symphony in the Flint Hills. "Each book is lovingly designed to showcase a specific location and theme."


"The Historic Chisholm Trail"
by Ron Wilson

In the annals of our nation
Stands this immortal tale.
The remarkable migration:
Beef up the Chisholm Trail.

One hundred fifty years ago,
War stopped, to our relief.
But for our nation yet to grow,
The people needed beef.

Then came a man named Joe McCoy
Whose visionary plan
Would bring alive the great cowboy
And change our history’s span.

He saw where railroads sent their trains.
His vision it was keen:
Move Texas cattle up the plains,
Clear on to Abilene.

So Joe McCoy built stockyards here
To take the herds of beasts,
And ship them on from the frontier
To markets in the east.

In Texas, longhorns ranging free
Were worth four bucks a head,
But in the cities they could bring
Ten times that, people said.

So Texas drovers heard those words,
And chose to venture forth.
They gathered up vast cattle herds,
And bravely brought them north.

Now Jesse Chisholm had a store
Where Wichita now stands.
He headed south in days of yore
To trade with Indian bands.

The drovers followed Chisholm’s track
On up to Wichita
Then kept on north, not looking back,
Till Abilene they saw.

With that, the Chisholm Trail was blazed
Into our nation’s story,
And generations now have raised
The legend into glory.