watering the herd
sufficiently, the partners headed north up the river, forced to leave over 100
head bogged helplessly in the quicksand banks where they landed. Goodnight said
later that the Pecos was "the graveyard of a cowman's hopes - I hated
of plans lay ahead for the partners. The original scheme was to move the herd
north into Colorado and sell the beeves at Denver. As they worked their way
north up the Pecos toward Colorado, they passed near a reservation at Fort
Sumner, New Mexico Territory where 8,500 Navajo Indians were being held by the
Army. The reservation had been set up 3 years before, with a plan to have the
Navajos held there take up farming - an experiment that had failed miserably,
leaving the Indians nearly starved, sick and dying.
Fort Sumner, Loving and Goodnight sold all the steers for $12,000 in gold - a
fortune! This left several hundred head of cows and calves that the Army
declined to buy, so it was agreed that Loving would take that remnant herd into
Denver for sale, as he'd been there in '61. To prevent the disaster of Indian
starvation, the Army was willing to pay high prices for more cattle to be
delivered. The Fort was in desperate need of beef, and Loving and Goodnight now
knew what it took to deliver. So Goodnight took 3 hands and headed back to Texas
to begin building a second herd with the proceeds.
Loving made the drive to
Denver, sold the herd to local stockman John Iliff and returned to an area below
Fort Sumner called Bosque Grande to await Goodnight and the second herd.
Goodnight made that drive back successfully, learning from the experiences of
the first trip, and the cattle were held there and peddled out to the Fort as