Cooking out on the trail, Inaugural Salt Grass Trail Rise, 1952, between Brenham and Houston. L to R: John Warnasch, E.H. Marks, Pat Flaherty, Reese Lockett Photo: Atha Marks Dimon
The History of the Salt Grass Trail Ride
This kick-off event for the Houston Livestock Show
and Rodeo reenacts the trail ride of pioneer cattlemen and their
herd to Houston from the rich salt grass pastures on the Gulf
Coast. The modern trail ride gained authenticity from the
participation of old-time cowmen who had trailed cattle to market
in the nineteenth century. One such cowman was E.H. Marks, who was
among the four original riders of the inaugural Salt Grass Trail
Ride in 1952. While more than 6,000 riders participate today, the
first re-enactment in 1953 drew fewer than 100 participants.
Riding from Brenham, a small town in salt grass
country, 70 miles to Houston each February are a single-file of
wagons and horses carrying bankers, lawyers, oilmen, housewives,
and politicians, as well as cattlemen, stock show officials,
newspaper reporters and television celebrities. Participants have
ranged in age from five years to past eighty. Marks' entire family
caught his enthusiasm. In February 1999, E.H. Marks' eldest
daughter, Atha Marks Dimon, 88, made the ride accompanied by her
daughter Athene, her grandson Boyd Vaughan, and great-grandson
Reagan Vaughan. The Salt Grass Trail ride is a signature event that
represents an important part of the history of Harris County, and
which has persisted in the face of the enormous growth and
modernization of Houston.
Project documentation includes a five-page report,
twelve 8 x 10 glossy photos, the by-laws of the Salt Grass Trail
Association, and flyers, a map and instructions from the 1956
Originally submitted by: Bill Archer, Representative (7th District).
The Local Legacies project provides a "snapshot" of American Culture as it was expressed in spring of 2000. Consequently, it is not being updated with new or revised information with the exception of "Related Website" links.