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Oklahoma Artist Wants To Bring Fading Chisholm Trail Mural Back To Life

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One woman, who preserved that history through art decades ago says the memories of the trail she created are fading. One woman, who preserved that history through art decades ago says the memories of the trail she created are fading.
YUKON, Oklahoma -

Oklahoma has a rich history including the Chisholm Trail that ran through the state back in the late 1800s. One woman, who preserved that history through art decades ago says the memories of the trail she created are fading.

The cattle trail crossed through many Oklahoma towns, including Yukon, where artist Joy Willingham painted a mural about it. Now, 26 years later, she's ready to get her paint brushes back out to preserve it once again, before it's gone forever.

“When the sun is shining on it you can hardly see it, it's so faded out,” Willingham said.

Willingham painted a mural about the Chisholm Trail in 1989 along Yukon's Main Street. Now worn, she can still make out the images she created along this historic cattle trail.

“You know I can look back there and see the cattle being ran by the cowboys there,” she said.

The Chisholm Train ran through the state to move Texas cattle to Kansas, where they were shipped out by rail all across the country.

“The chuck wagon down here, they're camped out by the creek, all the cattle have been driven long distances, they're tired they're resting for the night,” she said as she details the images she painted. “Dale Robertson is the trail boss there.”

It was a fitting depiction for the Oklahoma native who became a star of television and Western movies.

“Dale Robertson was such a neat guy,” Willingham said. “I asked him if I could use his ranch to draw the cattle and come up with some designs and stuff for the mural.”

Robertson dedicated the mural, which took Willingham a month to complete, just in time for the inaugural Chisholm Trail Festival in 1989. After years of wear, Joy wants returned to bring it back to life.

“Up in here that is loose paint but that can be knock off and repainted no problem,” she said.

She's trying to raise money so she can repaint it. She needs $7,500 for supplies and to hire two people to help her.

“I am 68 years old; I would like to repaint it while I’m still capable of doing it,” she said. “It kind of stands for what the town is that they care enough to create an artistic rendition of something that's famous through this town.”

Willingham has set up a GoFundMe account.

She hopes to get the mural done in time for the Czech Festival in October.

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