Fort Worth was one of the last resting points for cattle being herded on the long Cattle Drives north to Kansas between 1866 and 1890 on the Chisholm Trail. The Union Stockyards in Fort Worth came into being in 1899, with the name changed to the Fort Worth Stockyards in 1893 when a group of Boston businessmen in the meat packing business bought the stockyards. In 1900 Meat Processing plants were established next to the Saleyard Pens and the Livestock Exchange Building was built in 1902 where Cattle, horses, hogs, sheep and Mules were bought and sold by Agents, dealers, ranchers and buyers. All of this activity brought wealth and prosperity, and in 1907 the Cowtown Coliseum was built, and the first Rodeo show was staged.
The Stockyards, meat packing operations were very prosperous right up to the end of the Second World War, but by the end of the war, roads and trucks were replacing railroads, and meat packing was becoming more de-centralized across the United States with mechanization replacing large numbers of workers.
In 1962 Armour closed down and in 1971 Swift, the other major Meat Processing Company in Fort Worth also closed its operations and the old Stockyards went into a period of decline. In 1976 local activists formed the North Fort Worth Historical Society and with community and Government support the landmark buildings and heritage of the Stockyard era has been brought to life.
Here in the Stockyard District there are still some cattle bought and sold, Rodeo shows are held every Friday and Saturday night, and there is a real Longhorn cattle drive twice a day.
The best way to get a real feel for the Stockyards is to head first to the Visitor Information Center at 130 E. Exchange Avenue ( Tel: 817 624 4741) where there are walking tours happening.
Places you will see include –
- Hyatt Place Fort Worth Stockyards – 132 E. Exchange Avenue
- Cowpen Coliseum and Texan Rodeo Cowboy Hall of Fame – 121 E. Exchange Avenue
- Livestock Exchange Building and Stockyards Museum – 131 E. Exchange Avenue
- Fort Worth Stockyard Stables and Texas Cowboy Hall of Fame – 128 E. Exchange Avenue
- Stockyards Station – 130 E. Exchange Avenue
- Stockyards Hotel – 109 E. Exchange Avenue
- The Bull Ring – 112 Exchange Avenue
- White Elephant Saloon – 106 E. Exchange Avenue
- Cowtown Cattlepen Maze – 121 E. Exchange Avenue
- Grapevine Vintage Railroad – 140 E. Exchange Avenue
- Pearl's Dancehall and Saloon – 302 W. Exchange Avenue
- Rodeo Plaza – 2520 Rodeo Plaza
- Rodeo Park – Ellis Avenue and 26th Street
- Billy Bob's Texas – 2520 Rodeo Plaza
- River Ranch – 500 NE 23rd Street
The whole Stockyards District is easy to walk around and all that is happening here make this a great place to spend a day and get a feel for what makes Fort Worth such a great city to visit. There are also restaurants and places to get something to eat, buy some Texan Boots, cowboy hats, Segway and stagecoach rides, as well as entertainment.
There's a lot to see in Texas, and certainly coming to Fort Worth and Dallas will give you a real feel for the Texan lifestyle and Heritage.
I hope you have a great time here. As with all travel, it is the people you meet that really make the traveling memorable.