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Inaugural Salt Grass Trail Ride, 1952
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 ride.

Originally submitted by: Bill Archer, Representative (7th District).



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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.

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