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Cattle drives, were a major economic activity in the 19th century American West, particularly between 1866 and 1886. In this period, 20 million cattle were driven from Texas to railheads in Kansas, for shipment to stockyards in Chicago and points east. The long distances covered, the need for periodic rests by riders and animals, and the establishment of railheads led to the development of "cow towns" across the frontier.
On Jan. 10,1901, when spurting drilling pipe, gas and oil, the Lucas No. 1 well blew in at Spindletop near Beaumont.The gusher spewed oil more than 100 feet into the air until it was capped nine days later. With that dramatic fanfare, Texas' economy was wrenched from its rural, agricultural roots and flung headlong into the petroleum and industrial age.
RAILROADS. Transportation was a major problem facing early settlers in Texas. As late as 1850 the settled area of the state was largely confined to the river bottoms of East and South Texas and along the Gulf Coast. Although steamboat navigation was common on the lower stretches of a number of such rivers as the Rio Grande, Brazos, and Trinity, Texas rivers were not deep enough for dependable year-round transportation.
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