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The Marks Family Films, no. 2 - The Salt Grass Trail Ride (1956)

Milo Marks

Silent | 1950s

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  •  Cattlemen load up for the annual Salt Grass Trail Ride from Brenham to Houston, the kick-off event for the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo 
  •  Check out that transition! 
  •  Riding along the trail on horseback 
  •  One participant plays an accordion 
  •  Four cattlemen pose together 
  •  Everyone stops for a meal, including the horses 
  •  A marching band ushers in the trail riders during the rodeo parade in downtown Houston 
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This home movie features silent, black-and-white footage of the Salt Grass Trail Ride in 1956. The kick-off event for the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo (previously known as the Houston Fat Stock Show and Livestock Exhibition), the trail ride began in 1952 after four cowmen decided to reenact the journey of pioneer cattlemen taking their herds from the Gulf Coast to Houston. The tradition continues to this day, with travelers riding from Brenham to Houston, roughly 80 miles, in wagons or on horseback each February. Emil Henry Marks, owner of the LH7 Ranch in Barker and one of the first cattlemen on the Gulf Coast to cross breed Brahman bulls with longhorn cattle, was one of the original four to make the trip. Marks can be seen in this footage, along with Bill Daniel, who served as a Democratic Party member of the Texas House of Representatives from 1949 to 1953 and as the Governor of Guam from 1961 to 1963, an appointment made by President John F. Kennedy.
Emil Henry Marks, also known as E. H. Marks, was born in Addicks, Texas on October 26, 1881. He began working as a cowboy at age ten, registering the LH7 brand in Harris County in 1898. The ranch opened near Addicks in 1907, and moved to Barker in 1917. Marks was one of the first cattlemen on the Gulf Coast to cross breed Brahman bulls with common longhorn cattle. The LH7 also protected the foundation stock of Texas longhorns in an attempt to save the breed from extinction. Marks maintained a herd of 500 purebred longhorns, one of the nation’s largest. In reviving the breed, the Texas Longhorn Breeding Association of America declared the Marks line one of the “seven families” of Texas longhorn cattle. The LH7 hosted an annual ranch rodeo from 1918 to 1945. Marks was also one of the four original riders to participate in the inaugural Salt Grass Trail Ride from Brenham to Houston in 1952. The annual event now kicks off the start of the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. Marks died in Houston on September 15, 1969. After his death, two of Marks’ children, Maudeen and Travis, split their father’s herd and ranching operation to open their own ranches, with Maudeen settling near Bandera and Travis near Fannin. Both kept the LH7 brand. In 1985, the Texas Historical Commission designated the LH7 Ranch in Barker a state archeological landmark.