(ODD)yssey, Blog Post

A trip to the Fort Worth Stockyards is like visiting the Wild West of old

From Sunday, July 21 through Friday, July 26, Sweetums and I drove 2,150 miles from Huntsville, Alabama, to Fort Worth, Texas, and back again. I am posting the stops in order of the trip. The map is below. Most sites will be included in my upcoming Guide to Southern Oddities.

Road-Trip Stop No. 13: Fort Worth Stockyards National Historic District

Fort Worth is the closest we’ve been, so far to the Wild West. It was so much fun to stay in a real Western hotel (click here to read about it) and watch a cattle drive like those that have been held in the stockyards for more than 100 years.

Fort Worth Stockyards National Historic District is filled with shops, restaurants, bars, lodging and family entertainment, all on the site where cattle and other livestock have been bought and sold for decades.

Now, visitors can have photos made sitting on a longhorn steer (don’t worry, the steer are only on duty for two hours a day and then go back to their pens, where they are thoroughly spoiled), ride a mechanical bull, find their way through a maze, take in a real rodeo, and visit the Rodeo Hall of Fame.

The Stockyards website says, “Fort Worth is where the West begins, and nothing embodies Western heritage better than the Fort Worth Stockyards National Historic District. From the original brick walkways to the wooden corrals, every inch of the Stockyards tells the true history of Texas’s famous livestock industry.”

Fort Worth Stockyards National Historic District is like a preserved part of the Wild West. This market where cattle has been bought and sold for more than a century now offers family entertainment, shopping, museums, restaurants and lodging. (Photo by Wil Elrick | Permission Required)

Some new venues were being added at the stockyards in some of the original historic buildings, so it looks as if more entertainment will be available there in coming months. The stockyards, located a few miles from downtown Fort Worth, were located at the beginning of the Chisholm Trail; Fort Worth was the last stio “for rest and supplies” before heading into Indian territory.

The online history says, “Between 1866 and 1890, drovers trailed more than four million head of cattle through Fort Worth. The city soon became known as ‘Cowtown.’ When the railroad arrived in 1876, Fort Worth became a major shipping point for livestock, so the city built the Union Stockyards, two and a half miles north of the Tarrant County Courthouse, in 1887. 

Kelly and Wil at the Fort Worth Stockyards National Historic District. This market where cattle has been bought and sold for more than a century now offers family entertainment, shopping, museums, restaurants and lodging. (Photo by Wil Elrick | Permission Required)

In 1893, investor Greenleif Simpson “bought the Union Stockyards for $133,333.33 and changed the name to the Fort Worth Stockyards Company.”

The stockyards remained busy until after World War II when paved highways and trucks changed the cattle industry.

The online history says, “It was a whole new way to market livestock, as auctions at the Stockyards shrank and all the major packers in the United States struggled to adapt. … By 1986, Stockyards sales reached an all-time low of 57,181 animals.”

In 1989, the North Fort Worth Historical Society opened the Stockyards Museum in the Exchange Building, helping to transition the stockyards into a tourist attraction, although cattle is still sold there.

We loved the vibe at the Stockyards and hope to go back at some point. In the meantime, check out our photos.

A rodeo statue in front of the coliseum where rodeos are still held. The Rodeo Hall of Fame is also located in the coliseum. (Photo by Kelly Kazek | Permission Required)
Fort Worth Stockyards National Historic District. (Photo by Wil Elrick | Permission Required)
Fort Worth Stockyards National Historic District . (Photo by Wil Elrick | Permission Required)
A marker tells the history of the Stockyards sign. (Photo by Wil Elrick | Permission Required)
A rodeo statue in front of the coliseum where rodeos are still held. The Rodeo Hall of Fame is also located in the coliseum. (Photo by Wil Elrick | Permission Required)
Fort Worth Stockyards National Historic District . (Photo by Wil Elrick | Permission Required)
Kelly on a brindle steer at the Fort Worth Stockyards National Historic District . We were assured the steer are only “on duty” for two hours a day and then they are returned to their pens where they are suitably spoiled. (Photo by Wil Elrick | Permission Required)
Fort Worth Stockyards National Historic District . (Photo by Wil Elrick | Permission Required)
When in Texas, buy the hat. (Photo by Wil Elrick | Permission Required)
A cattle drive at Fort Worth Stockyards National Historic District . (Photo by Wil Elrick | Permission Required)
A cattle drive at Fort Worth Stockyards National Historic District . (Photo by Wil Elrick | Permission Required)
Sweetums’ son, “Groover”, on a steer. (Photo by Wil Elrick | Permission Required)
A cattle drive at Fort Worth Stockyards National Historic District . (Photo by Wil Elrick | Permission Required)
Fort Worth Stockyards National Historic District . (Photo by Wil Elrick | Permission Required)
A cattle drive at Fort Worth Stockyards National Historic District . (Photo by Wil Elrick | Permission Required)
An over-sized spur sculpture at A cattle drive at Fort Worth Stockyards National Historic District . (Photo by Wil Elrick | Permission Required)
Kelly at Fort Worth Stockyards National Historic District . (Photo by Wil Elrick | Permission Required)
Fort Worth Stockyards National Historic District . (Photo by Wil Elrick | Permission Required)
Fort Worth Stockyards National Historic District . (Photo by Wil Elrick | Permission Required)
Fort Worth Stockyards National Historic District . (Photo by Wil Elrick | Permission Required)
Fort Worth Stockyards National Historic District . (Photo by Wil Elrick | Permission Required)
Fort Worth Stockyards National Historic District . (Photo by Wil Elrick | Permission Required)
Fort Worth Stockyards National Historic District . (Photo by Wil Elrick | Permission Required)
Fort Worth Stockyards National Historic District . (Photo by Wil Elrick | Permission Required)
Fort Worth Stockyards National Historic District . (Photo by Wil Elrick | Permission Required)
Fort Worth Stockyards National Historic District . (Photo by Wil Elrick | Permission Required)
Fort Worth Stockyards National Historic District . (Photo by Wil Elrick | Permission Required)
Fort Worth Stockyards National Historic District . (Photo by Wil Elrick | Permission Required)

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