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Raised on historic trail, he's now retiring there

The farm that Jerry Unruh grew up on northwest of Durham has ruts that prove the Chisholm Trail ran through it.

Unruh was just a kid when his grandfather, Isaac Lorenz, and his father, Norman Unruh, told him about the trail and showed him the ruts.

“I didn’t think much about it,” he said of the trail that, 150 years ago, brought cattle from Texas to Abilene, where they were loaded on train cars and shipped east to be processed for beef.

Since then, he has acquired an intense interest in western history and now plans to build a retirement house on a quarter of land one mile away from where he grew up that also has visible ruts from the trail.

He and his wife, Pam, plan to stage events there to memorialize the trail, including re-creating a cattle drive.

Unruh met trail pioneer Jesse Chisholm’s great-grandson in Oklahoma last year. Now in his 70s, he wants to come and speak.

“The trail began as an Indian trail,” Unruh said, “then was used by traders and explorers, and then became a cattle trail.”

When the trail’s 150th anniversary approached, he and his wife, Pam, became involved in planning activities along the trail. The land they purchased in 2011 between Bison and Chisholm Trail Rds. on 300th Rd. was a camping point for trail riders.

The portion of the trail between Wichita and Abilene wasn’t ever used by Jesse Chisholm, for whom the trail is named, but was an extension of it, Unruh said.

“I feel very fortunate to have a part of history,” he said. “We love the land. There is a lot of work to be done on it.”

The couple appreciates its history.

“We feel like we are stewards of the land,” Pam said. “We are working hard to get it in pristine shape. We want to make it as close to natural as possible.”

Last modified May 30, 2018

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