Western Trips

Western Trips

Sunday, November 3, 2013

A Visit to a Cowtown Called Fort Worth

Fort Worth Texas rightly gained the nickname "Cowtown" and for a very good reason. Here was a spot in northern Texas where herds of cattle poured through on their trip north. Cattle from many branches of the old Chisholm Trail made their way through Fort Worth on their journey to the all important railheads.

chisholm trail fort worth
Chisholm Trail Mural
When the Spanish pulled out of their northern colony in the early 1800's thousands of heads of cattle roamed freely all throughout Texas. This was the era before barbed wire and homestead acts. This was the wide open frontier literally with boundaries.  Later, the American Civil War essentially put a halt on cattle exportation out of Texas aside from efforts to supply a Confederate army to the east. When the Civil War ended, the cattle herds had multiplied tremendously and the era of what we know of as that of the great cattle drives in and out of Texas was born. The Chisholm Trail played a major role in this new and profitable industry.

If you drive through Texas today, take a look at Interstate 35 on your road map and you'll see the route of much of the old famous Chisholm Trail.

Visiting Fort Worth Texas

Take a walking tour or leisurely drive through Fort Worth today and you'll see a great many reminders of what made this town, now a major city, into the fascinating historic site it is. Below are listed several areas and sites of Fort Worth you'll want to add to your trip planner.

attractions fort worth stockyards
Fort Worth Stockyards carriage rides
If you're visiting Dallas and want to make a day trip to Fort Worth the TRE commuter train gives you an easy and low cost way to do that. The TRE train can be boarded at the Union Station in downtown Dallas and arrives in downtown Fort Worth at the Intermodal Transportation Center.

Sundance Square

Located in the heart of downtown Fort Worth, Sundance Square is an area of hotels, shops, some excellent restaurants. Sundance Square is bordered by Taylor Street, Grove Street, 1st St. and 5th St. Sundance Square is also the home of some interesting murals such as the Chisholm Trail Mural shown in this article. This three story tall mural is seen on the old 1908 Jett Building. The mural was created in 1988 and commemorates the Chisholm Trail cattle drives between 1867 and 1875.

tarrant county courthouse
Tarrant County Couthouse, Fort Worth TX
The Tarrant County Courthouse

The Tarrant County Courthouse in downtown Fort Worth Texas was completed in 1895 after two years of construction. Made from pink granite from central Texas, the courthouse sits atop a bluff above the Trinitiy River and at a spot near where the original military fort was established in 1849 and manned by the 2nd U.S. Dragoons. The military outpost of Fort Worth had a relatively short lifespan closing in 1853.

One of the most interesting stories regarding the courthouse's construction had to do with it's cost. The very impressive structure was built for a little over $400,000. In the 1890's this was obviously a large amount of money. Even though the cost of construction came in under it's budget, the voting public in Fort Worth felt that this was a tremendous waste of money. The sentiment was so strong that the entire Commissioner's Court and the County Judge were ousted from office. While this certainly was a drastic measure at the time, the Tarrant County Courthouse was eventually realized for the beautiful architectural masterpiece it is.

texas courthouse architecture
Renaissance Revival architecture
The Biggest Stagecoach Hub in the Southwest

Fort Worth Texas became the largest stagecoach hub in the southwest after the tracks of the Texas and Pacific Railroad reached town in 1876. If you were heading west you might take the train to Fort Worth and transfer to one of the many stagecoaches going further west and southwest. This could very well have been your itinerary heading to El Paso, Tucson Arizona or California.

Fort Worth Stockyards

Probably no better place in Fort Worth to get the feel of the old west cattle drive days. The Fort Worth Stockyards attract visitors from all over the world. Enjoy steers being driven through the stockyard area twice daily by authentic cowboys. The stockyard area was once home to both Armour and Swift packing plants during the first half of the 1900's.

stockyards in fort worth
The Fort Worth Stockyards is a National Historic District located about six miles north of the central business district off N. Main Street.

The links below will take you to our Western Trips visit of the Fort Worth Stockyards with photos and history and our article on Cowboy Gear...

Cattle Drives and the Fort Worth Stockyards

Cowboy Gear for the Cattle Drive

The Cattle Raisers Museum

Another great place to visit to get the feel of the old "Cowtown" is the Cattle Raisers Museum which opened in 1980. Located at 1301 W. 7th Street, the Cattle Raisers Museum offers cowboy and ranching artifacts and a good many interactive exhibits. This 10,000 square foot museum is dedicated to preserving the history of the cattle industry. The museum tells the fascinating story of cattle ranching, cowboys and cattle drives from the 1850's to the present day.

(Article and photos copyright 2013 Western Trips)

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