Fort Worth Stockyards is Cowboy Country

If you have asked yourself what the Wild West was like, you can visit Fort Worth Stockyards. Texas is synonymous with modern cowboys who manage huge pick-ups trucks and have guns as part of their clothing. In the old days they still had guns but they drove carts and horses.

The cities of Dallas and Fort Worth have grown so much that they are stuck to each other. Definitely it is advisable to rent a car since everything is big in Texas and public transportation is non-existent. The good thing is that Fort Worth Stockyards has many parking lots that are free or quite cheap.

Flourishing cattle business

Long ago, Fort Worth was the last point of rest and supply for cattle herders before entering Indian territory. It is said that between 1866 and 1890 more than four million head of cattle passed through the area. Which led to the area being baptized with the name “Cowtown”.

In 1876, the railroad opened and Fort Worth Union Stockyards was built on 206 acres (83 hectares). Unfortunately, they did not have funds to make the business profitable. So they decided to invite Greenleif Simpson, an investor from Boston. When he came, he was impressed by the amount of cattle there was. But it was pure luck, since the railroad was on strike and it had rained too much to leave the cattle outside. He decided to buy Union Stockyards for $133,333.33.

Then luck changed, since they managed to convince Armor and Swift companies to build plants to process meat near Fort Worth Stockyards. They decided who would get which piece of land with the flip of a coin and began the construction of the corrals and barns. In addition, a cattle exchange building was constructed known as the ‘Wall Street of the West’. The businesses prospered and by 1907 they were selling one million head of cattle per year.

A historic monument of Texas

World War II marked the decline of the operation. The railroad stopped being important with the construction of roads that gave more flexibility. Smaller and closer operations took away business from central locations such as Fort Worth Stockyards. Armor and Swift processing plants were obsolete with high salaries and administrative costs. Armor closed its plant in 1962 and Swift in 1971. By 1986, they reached the lowest point which was 57,181 animals. Nowadays, the livestock exchange building continues to sell cattle but via satellite video.

In 1976 Fort Worth Stockyards was included as a historic neighborhood in the United States National Registry. 46 buildings were included within the complex. Several sites were also incorporated into the Texas Historical Monuments Registry including the welcome sign.

Cowtown Coliseum

One of the main buildings is the Cowtown Coliseum that has the year 1908 next to its name on the facade. We decided to buy tickets to see the rodeo. The shows change according to the dates and seasons of the year (you can check in We saw one of the regular shows which is “Pawnee Bill’s Wild West Show” done every Saturday.

The show tells the story of Pawnee Bill who befriends the Indians. They ride with pistols while they shoot balloons. In addition, they practice the loop where the cowboy mounts and stands on a horse. It really is quite family oriented and they sell food and drinks on site.

Many places claim to be the site of the first rodeo but there is no doubt that the first indoor rodeo was in Cowtown Coliseum in 1918. In addition, the first rodeo that was done with a live radio broadcast and televised nationally. Several United States Presidents have held events on site, including Jimmy Carter and Theodore Roosevelt. Many series such as ‘Dallas’ and ‘Walker Texas Rangers’ were filmed at the Coliseum.

What to do in Fort Worth Stockyards?

Every day they make transfers of cattle at 11:30 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. We arrived a little earlier to grab a good site to see it. They move 16 long horns cattle on the main street of Fort Worth Stockyards. The event replicates a practice made by Charles “Buffalo” Jones who moved buffalo calves through the streets of Garden City, Kansas.

It was the first time I had seen these animals and the size of their horns is impressive. Then I got up on one to take a picture. Of course they charged me since it is a tourist site.

There are several museums including the Fort Worth Military Museum and Stockyards Museum within the historic cattle exchange building. Since we were with children they did not have much interest in going to museums.

We only entered the Texas Cowboy Hall of Fame which I found very expensive for what it offers. It mostly had a collection of old carriages and a long corridor with displays on famous cowboys.

You can ride on a mechanical bull to see how long you last before you bounce. There is also a petting zoo and a labyrinth for children. Adults can go on a night ghost tour that includes visits to several of the hotels such as Stockyards Hotel that are supposedly haunted.

There are plenty of restaurants on site, including stalls which sell lemonade and jellies. There is also a shopping section that sells Texan items such as condiments, leashes, boots, dried meat and more. Visiting Fort Worth Stockyards means a full day of fun, the hard part is choosing between so many things to do.

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