This brief and entertaining history of the Texas Longhorn details the development of the first distinct American breed of beef cattle. The Spanish herds that had roamed Texas for generations, when mixed with English Longhorns brought by Anglo settlers in the early 1800s, yielded a rangy hybrid that could thrive in Texas’ climate and was ideally suited to ranchers’ aspirations.
Almost extinct by the turn of the century, the Texas Longhorn was preserved by the efforts of just a few people who recalled with fondness the days when the cattle had thundered on the trails. Some U.S. Forest Service officials, several ranchers, and even a folklorist—J. Frank Dobie—gathered the animals for breeding and successfully managed the small herds until they stabilized and began to increase. The Texas Longhorn Breeders Association of America was formed in 1964 to preserve and promote the breed, and a growing interest in improving health by eating leaner meat has spurred renewed interest in the lean Longhorn as more than just a nostalgic novelty.