"Someone has said that civilization follows the plow. West of the Missouri, the plow followed the cowboy, and the cowboy followed a longhorn from Texas."
RISING FROM THE PAST
The Texas Longhorn has followed a long trail to the 21st century. Its ancestors came from the shores of Spain, arriving with Columbus in 1493 at Santa Domingo. In 1521, Gregorio de Villalobos brought the first cattle from Santa Domingo to Mexico. Explorers, settlers and expeditions to establish missions then brought cattle into Texas. These cattle, mingling with cattle lost by eastern settlers, propagated as they escaped, were scattered by Indians or abandoned. Left on their own without benefit of man, these animals survived by their own ingenuity - developing through the years the traits of hardiness, disease resistance, longevity, fertility and browse utilization.
During the dark days following the Civil War, the Texas Longhorn became the financial salvation of the Southwest. Men returning home found that their only source of income was the thousands of Texas Longhorns wandering freely - worth next to nothing in Texas, but hungered for by residents in the North. An estimated 10 million Texas cattle were trailed to Northern markets between 1866 and 1895 bringing in the staggering sum of $200,000,000.
However, in the late 1800s, the hardy Texas Longhorn met with an enemy its natural instincts couldn't fight - the fencing of the open ranges and the importation of other breeds. The number of Texas Longhorns dwindled until the true Texas Longhorn approached extinction. As national concern grew, the U.S. government appropriated $3,000 in 1927 to acquire a herd of the old-time cattle. After a 5,000- mile trip through South Texas and Old Mexico, Forest Service employees located 27 head, which became the foundation stock for the federal herd at the Wichita Mountains National Wildlife Refuge in Cache, OK.
Through the years, interest in Texas Longhorns increased, and in 1964, concerned breeders organized the Texas Longhorn Breeders Association of America (TLBAA), now headquartered in Fort Worth, TX. Today, through the efforts of those breeders, over 450,000 head of Texas Longhorn cattle have been registered.