The Fort Worth Stockyards are what people in Texas love to remember about the Wild West days of the Lone Star State, and I’m sure this scene in Fort Worth, Texas, is how some wish it would still be like today.
If you’ve ever met a Texan, you know that people from Texas really love Texas. And I’m starting to see why. I saddled up my horse and moseyed on over (couldn’t resist the clichés!) to the Stockyards during my trip to Dallas last week where I found a spur and boots, Stetson and leather chaps charm. Just as I suspected, this is Texas at it’s finest.
Welcoming me into Fort Worth Stockyards National Historic District was a lone cowboy sitting on the porch of the General Store having a smoke as he watched the tumbleweeds quietly roll by. Rounding the corner, driving over brick roads lined with the remains of ghost towns past, I find myself trailing a cattle drive down the main street of town.
This “Cowtown,” as it became known in the latter part of the 1800s, was once the last stop on the Chisholm Trail, “the dusty path where millions of cattle were driven North to market,” according to the Fort Worth Convention and Visitor’s Bureau. The increase in livestock traffic led to the construction of the Stockyards, which gave ranchers a local stage to auction cattle instead of having to drive them thousands of miles to other markets.
The Stockyards continued to generate revenue from livestock sales until the ’70s when the numbers of cattle drives across the plains of Texas declined due to improved means of transportation and shipping. With over 130 million acres of farmland in the state alone, Texas was, and still remains, the largest producer of cattle in the U.S.
6 must-do’s at the Stockyards
- Twice a day at 11:30 a.m. and 4 p.m., cowboys drive a herd of Texas Longhorn’s down the main street of town.
- Shop at Stockyards Station for your hot sauce, cowboy hats and other Texas-sized souvenirs.
- Visit the Fort Worth Stockyards Museum, in the 1902 Livestock Exchange building, for a look at the historical archives of the town.
- Take a ride on the Grapevine Vintage Railroad, “the oldest continuously operating steam locomotive in the South,” that takes you on a ride along the Cotton Belt Route.
- Visit the many local watering holes for an ice-cold beverage or learn how to line dance at a Texas dancehall, such as Billy Bob’s Texas, which is known for their country music concerts (Lee Ann Womack just made an appearance!) and live bull riding.
- And of course, eat! This area, like all towns in Texas, is full of true Texas tastes, including steakhouses, Tex-Mex and barbecue. I’m a lover of down-home, straight-from-your-mamma’s-kitchen dinner. And I found just that at Risky’s Bar-B-Q in Stockyards Station. The pulled beef tasted as if it had been in the smoker since the town’s start; yep, it was good!