History Nebraska Blog

Marker Monday: Chadron-Chicago Cowboy Race

Welcome to Marker Monday! Each Monday we will feature one of Nebraska’s hundreds of historical markers. If you’d like to see a specific marker featured, send an email to jill.dolberg@nebraska.gov.

The Chadron-Chicago Cowby Race ended 123 years ago today. Some of the events surrounding the race included animal rights activism and the myth of the Wild West.

Location: 150-198 E 2nd St, Chadron, Dawes County, Nebraska; 42.830997, -102.9994

Marker Text: America's longest horse race began here June 13, 1893. The 1,000 mile race ended June 27 in Chicago at Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show. The race apparently was the idea of Chadron jokester John G. Maher. Seven of nine riders finished, some traveling up to ninety miles a day. Nebraska badman "Doc" Middleton was an entrant. John Berry won, riding Sandy and Poison, but was disqualified for having prior knowledge of the route. Chadron officials declared Joe Gillespie the winner. Read on/ Bibliography: William E. Deahl, Jr., “The Chadron-Chicago 1,000-Mile Cowboy Race,” Nebraska History 53 (1972): 166-193. The ride was designed to pit skilled Western horsemen against each other over a one thousand-mile route spanning the three states of Nebraska, Iowa and Illinois. This article presents the planning, the promotion, the opposition, and the story of the actual race.    

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