Old Chisholm Trail: About the Song

Texas Confederate soldiers returning home from the Civil War found that in their absence the herds of longhorn cattle they were raising before the war had doubled in size and were now roaming the southern tip of the state unbranded. They were so plentiful that they had little value in Texas, but the industrial cities of the North were booming with immigrant labor and hungry mouths to feed. So began the era of the American cowboy and the great cattle drives, in which cattle were rounded up and herded north into Kansas, Missouri, and Wyoming. There they met the new railroad lines that could carry the meat to the East Coast.

The first trail that was widely used for these long drives was called the Chisholm Trail. By the time the trail fell into disuse in 1882, hundreds of cowboys had driven tens of thousands of cattle up the trail, inventing and singing countless verses to “Old Chisholm Trail.”


Coma ti yi youpy, youpy yea, youpy yea
Coma ti yi youpy, youpy yea

Come along, boys, and listen to my tale
I’ll tell you of my troubles on the old Chisholm Trail

I started up the trail October twenty-third
I started up the trail with the 2-U herd

O a ten dollar hoss and a forty-dollar saddle
And I’m goin’ to punch in Texas cattle

I woke up one morning on the old Chisholm Trail
Rope in my hand and a cow by the tail

Stray in the herd and the boss said to kill it
So I shot him in the rump with the handle of the skillet

My hoss throwed me off at the creek called Mud
My hoss throwed me off round the 2-U herd

Last time I saw him he was going ‘cross the level
A-kicking up his heels and a-running like the devil

It’s cloudy in the west, a-looking like rain
And my darned old slicker’s in the wagon again

The wind commenced to blow and the rain began to fall
Hit looked, by grab, like we was goin’ to lose ’em all

I jumped in the saddle, grabbed holt of the horn
Best darned cowpuncher that ever was born

I popped my foot in the stirrup and gave a little yell
The tail cattle broke and the leaders went as well

Feet in the stirrups and seat in the saddle
I hung and rattled with them longhorn cattle

I don’t give a darn if they never do stop
I’ll ride as long as an eight-day clock

We rounded ’em up and put ’em on the cars
And that was the last of the old Two Bars

Goin’ to the boss to git my money
Goin’ back south to see my honey

With my hand on the horn and my seat in the sky
I’ll quit herding cows in the sweet by-and-by