By Shannon Gillette
Long before it was the jumping off point of the Chisholm Trail, the area that became known as Red River Station had been well traveled for thousands of years. Near the junction of Salt Creek and the Red River, the mighty Red makes a distinct bend to the north.
This natural detour pushes the current to the south bank creating a favorable crossing point. This crossing was used for centuries by huge herds of buffalos, Native Americans and much later by hundreds of thousands of Texas Longhorns.
In 1857, a few families tried to push the envelope of the frontier and settle in the area. They were pushed back by raiding Indians. By 1860 they had managed to fend off the hostile attacks and put down roots and build a few structures. Some of these adventurous souls were the Grayson, Cardwell, Boren and Quillan families.
In July and August of 1861 the Texas authorities sent a company of State Troopers or Rangers under the command of Captain Brunson to help defend against the continuing advances of the disgruntled Indians. The camp or station was first known as Camp Brunson.
By December of 1862, the company had undergone a reorganization, placing Captain John Rowland in charge. It is estimated that approximately 50 families sought refuge within the confines of the stockade. Rowland was reassigned to south Texas in 1864.
Not too long after Rowland’s exodus, the Chisholm Trail was in full swing. The trail led to Kansas from all points in Texas, herding Longhorn cattle to market. The feeder trails in Texas converged along the way, creating a funnel effect by the time it reached the Red River in Montague County. The first herds crossed at Red River Station in 1867. By 1870, it was a prominent crossing.
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