Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Tampa cattle drive rounds up history

As hundreds watch, steer are loaded into a trailer after a cattle drive Saturday in Tampa. The drive is part of a Tampa Bay History Center ranching exhibit.


As hundreds watch, steer are loaded into a trailer after a cattle drive Saturday in Tampa. The drive is part of a Tampa Bay History Center ranching exhibit.

TAMPA — Cowboys and cowgirls mounted horses Saturday and drove 18 wide-eyed cattle through downtown Tampa, past hundreds of people who lined up outside the Tampa Bay History Center.

Nick Dotti brought his 2-year-old son and 4-year-old daughter — each decked out in little cowboy hats and boots — from South Tampa to the cattle drive, which was held to promote the museum's traveling exhibit about Florida cattlemen.

He held one child in each arm as the cattle ran past, and he explained to daughter Maggie that she need not worry about cars entering the blocked-off road and hitting the animals.

Her favorite cow handler was "the one with the earrings," she said. That was Chass Bronson, 23, cousin of Florida Agriculture Commissioner Charles Bronson. She arrived in patent-leather cowboy boots, dark red lipstick and rhinestone-encrusted belt and earnings.

Though she's handled cattle for years on her father's ranch, Bronson said it was her first time driving them through a city.

"It was exciting, to say the least," she said.

At one point, she was worried the cattle dogs would drive the herd onto Channelside Drive, but the group herded the animals safely into a temporary pen. The crowd cheered.

Although a cattle drive in downtown Tampa was an odd sight Saturday, it wouldn't have been unusual 100 years ago. Beef cattle were regularly driven to local ports, often to be shipped to Cuba, said curator Rodney Kite-Powell.

"It wasn't a daily occurrence. We weren't like Tombstone," he said. "But cattle were very common around downtown."

Jim Handley, vice president of the Florida Cattlemen's Association, said the exhibit is important because it highlights a hidden industry. The Florida Cattle Ranching exhibit is on display through Dec. 19 at the history center.

Cattle first arrived in the United States through Florida in 1521 with Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de Leon, said Handley and Kite-Powell.

Now, there are about 1.7 million head of beef cattle in the state. They're raised on about 7 million acres mostly between interstates 75 and 95, Handley said.

The event drew a wide range of people — from toddlers to seniors, city folk and a few local ranchers. Jack Cannon, 79, a third-generation rancher from Pasco County, said he came to see how younger people drive cattle.

"It was alright," he said, smiling. "I would have controlled them better, though."

The children loved watching the cattle and stared at the beasts long after they were penned. After an hour, they had another treat: firefighters with powerful hoses. Someone had to clean the street.

Jessica Vander Velde can be reached at [email protected] or (813) 661-2443.

Tampa cattle drive rounds up history 11/21/09 [Last modified: Saturday, November 21, 2009 8:05pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Tampa's Lance McCullers shows killer instinct in pitching Astros to World Series


    HOUSTON — It felt like the beginning on Saturday night at Minute Maid Park, the arrival of a new force on the World Series stage. The Astros are back, for the first time in a dozen years, and they want to stay a while.

    Houston Astros starting pitcher Lance McCullers (43) throwing in the fifth inning of the game between the Houston Astros and the Tampa Bay Rays in Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Sunday, July 12, 2015.
  2. Jones: Where are the difference-makers on the Bucs defense?


    ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — They can't tackle. They can't cover. They can't pressure the quarterback, let alone sack him.

    Buffalo Bills quarterback Tyrod Taylor (5) scrambles past Bucs defensive tackle Clinton McDonald (98) during the first half. [LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times]
  3. Bucs-Bills journal: Breakout game for Bucs tight end O.J. Howard


    ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — It's obscured by the final score and a disappointing loss, but Bucs rookie tight end O.J. Howard had a breakout game Sunday, exceeding his season totals for catches and touchdowns in one afternoon.

    Bucs tight end O.J. Howard (80) celebrates a touchdown catch with quarterback Jameis Winston (3) during the second half. [LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times]
  4. Vladislav Namestnikov is Lightning's top-line 'secret'

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — Nikita Kucherov is piling up the goals. Steven Stamkos is an assist machine. They make for an impressive pairing in a league that favors scoring pairs over the more traditional three-player scoring lines.

    Vladislav Namestnikov (90) has three goals and 10 points on a line with Steven Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov.
  5. Bucs-Bills report card: Grading the Bucs' 30-27 loss at Buffalo


    ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — Hard to believe, but this was only the second time in their history that the Bucs played a regular-season game in Buffalo. After Sunday loss, they wouldn't mind going another 40 years without playing here again.

    Bucs head coach Dirk Koetter, seen during the first half, had a heck of a day calling plays, Tom Jones writes. [LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times]