Millions of bison once roamed the Great Plains. The shaggy animals were usually encountered by white travelers along the Oregon Trail not far from Fort Kearny. The extermination of the bison began in the early 1870s when buffalo hides began to be used in the manufacture of harness, shoes, and other leather goods. Their virtual disappearance left the vast Plains grasslands open to cattle moving north from Texas. The Plains tribes lost the one resource which had supplied their meat, clothing, tools, and shelter, and were forced onto reservations.