Cowboys in the American west drove cattle from Texas, where they were raised, to points in Kansas and elsewhere, from which they were shipped via railroads to Chicago for slaughter. There wasn't even beef in the north, and beef commanded a high price. The first cattle drive route, used in 1866, was from Texas to Sedalia, Missouri. However, this route involved going across farmland, and farmers protested the cattle drives, which they thought would destroy their crops and spread diseases to their animals. As a result, some farmers formed groups that threatened cowboys.
The later western routes of the long drives, such as the Chisholm and Western trails, were better because they crossed better grassland. In addition, these trails had to cross fewer Native American areas and farm areas. These later trails reached new railroad spurs such as Abilene and Wichita. No matter which route they followed, cowboys' lives were rough, as they had to steer thousands of cattle to towns hundreds of miles away and battle the elements while doing so.