National Ranching Heritage Center
J. J. Gibson Park
Nineteen life-size rangy Longhorns were sculpted, cast in bronze, and placed in a natural setting in the J.J. Gibson Memorial Park to commemorate the Texas Trail Drive Era from the 1860s to the 1880s.
The steers weigh 750 pounds each and were cast in a variety of poses before being strung though the park to resemble a walking herd. Each steer carries the brand of its donor, and the brands represent some of the most historic ranches in Texas. Texas native Terrell O’Brien sculpted the steers.
Historians estimate that nearly 5 million wild Longhorns roamed Texas after the Civil War and were free for the taking by men willing to make the effort. With no railroad in Texas, it meant the cattle had to be gathered, branded and driven hundreds of miles to sell. The long trail drives out of the state added an estimated 200 million 19th century dollars to the state economy and lifted Texas out of the poverty created by the war.
The park was named to honor the memory of longtime Four Sixes Ranch Manager J.J. Gibson of Guthrie, Texas. Anne Marion, head of the Four Sixes Ranches and the Burnett Foundation based in Fort Worth, funded the park project but individual ranch families and cattle companies donated the commemorative steers.
Eventually barbed wire hastened the end of the long trail drives, and ranchers traded the wild Longhorns for docile cattle that grazed quietly in fenced pastures.