The last obelisk of the Great Western Cattle Trail was unveiled in a special ceremony at Fort Buford Sunday, June 27, near Williston. The Great Western Cattle Trail was used during the late 19th century for movement of cattle and horses to markets in eastern and northern states. Courtesy of a handful of volunteers who placed obelisks and black marble markers from the South Dakota border to Belfield last summer and completed the remainder of the North Dakota portion in its entirety this summer, the last obelisk is projected to revitalize more rural towns along the historic trail with economic opportunities as well as preserve what made the West what it is today.
North Dakota Great Western Cattle Trail Project Chair Darrell Dorgan, former North Dakota State University Jim Ozbun and Sen. Rich Wardner were some of the keynote speakers at the event, who highlighted the importance of finalizing this project.
"The thing about it you got to understand is that we connected three countries. We are kind of connecting three countries today. What was then is today," Wardner said. "... Believe me, what happened then — the grit, the integrity of those people bringing those animals up still lives in the Midwest. That's why the Midwest is different... All of you have probably watched the movie 'Lonesome Dove.' That really is what it's all about. The challenges that they had (and) all of the things they had to go through, that (movie) pretty much says it all. But they kept on, and they kept on coming up here and they made a difference."
Dickinson Ready Mix, an avid supporter of local nonprofits in western North Dakota, provided the obelisks free of charge to the project — a donation estimated at more than $50,000.
"It feels good... We did it. Twenty years or a hundred years from now, this will be here and people will be able to remember it. It was a long haul, but we're done and I feel good about it," Dorgan said.