Goodnight-Loving Pecan

Historical Period: Frontier Texas (1865-1900)
Historical Topic: Folklore & Legends, Pecan-Our State Tree, Ranching & Rustling
Species: Pecan (Carya illinoinensis)
County: Palo Pinto
Public Access: Yes

Underneath this tree in 1866, an enterprising young cattleman named Charles Goodnight forged a partnership with prominent rancher Oliver Loving to blaze a new cattle trail eventually spanning some 2,000 miles.

Following the Civil War, most Texas cowmen drove their herds north or east along existing trails, flooding markets in Oklahoma, Kansas and Missouri. Goodnight and Loving had more ambitious plans to drive thousands of cattle to New Mexico and on to Colorado and Wyoming. Demand for beef from settlers, soldiers stationed at military outposts, and thousands of Navajos recently interned near Fort Sumner, NM was strong. Cattle were in Texas, but the need for food was farther west.

To get there, though, it meant skirting Comanche lands and driving cattle across difficult, waterless terrain. Goodnight and Loving left Fort Belknap, Texas on June 6, 1866 with 2,000 head of cattle and 18 armed men. After a long and treacherous drive, they arrived, dusty, dehydrated, and 400 head of cattle fewer; their combined skills succeeded and the Goodnight-Loving Trail was born.

Along the trail a year later, Loving was attacked by Comanches and died from his wounds. Over the following years, the Goodnight-Loving Trail became one of the most heavily traveled in the Southwest. Goodnight completed a few more drives himself before consolidating his ranching operations near Palo Duro Canyon.

Tree is on private property but may be viewed from the intersection of Johnson and 9th Streets in Oran.