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Trail Drive in a Hurricane


Time to Cowboy Up

By Will Johnson
Messenger Reporter

DAYTON – In the days of the Old West, it was not uncommon to witness a herd of cattle being ushered through the streets of a city by a group of cowboys. Nowadays, the closest most people come to a cattle drive is when they stop by the Stockyards in Ft. Worth.

Extraordinary events often call for extraordinary measures, however. When Hurricane Harvey made landfall over the weekend, most people either had left the area around Houston or decided to ride out the Category 4 hurricane.

Farmers and ranchers around the outlying parts of the Bayou City, however, had concerns other than just their own safety. Many had livestock they were trying to tend to and keep out of harm’s way, but when the water began to rise faster than anyone anticipated, calls for assistance were made.

One area resident who received a call for help was Caleb Rhone who joined up with Brandon Richburg, Clinton Parker and Conner Dixon to assist in moving a herd of cattle from a watery demise to the safety of higher ground.

“It was Brandon Richburg’s customer and I went down there to help him. There were probably about 130 or 140 cows that were trapped. We got there and it was pretty much the same as the last time we did this back in 2015,” Rhone said.

In 2015, he explained heavy rains forced the evacuation of cattle along the same route.

“We got them all rounded up, pushed ‘em through some water to the road and drove them through the middle of downtown Dayton,” he explained.

Dayton sits approximately 40 miles northeast of Houston.

“This doesn’t happen much anymore and it wasn’t the best scenario, but it was our only route. Water was getting up pretty high and pretty fast for us to try anything else. It was what we had to do,” Rhone said.

Asked if all the cattle made it through to safety, Rhone indicated he was fairly certain all of the herd was safe.

“We knew this worked last time, so we figured it would work again. You can talk to other people who might find this exciting, but really it’s just something that happens. Mr. Richburg has been in this for a while and this wasn’t his first time. I was just down there helping him,” he said.

“It was just one of those things,” he added. “We just put them together and drove ‘em out to the road. We probably drove them two or three miles down (State Highway) 321 and probably eight to ten miles right through the middle of downtown. This is the way we make a living. Sometimes this just happens.”

Will Johnson may be contacted via e-mail at wjohnson@messenger-news.com.