Thursday, December 5, 2019

Fort Worth Stockyards, Fort Worth, Texas

Another tourist attraction that we heard was a must see, so we decided to head there before Jim's doctor appointment which was just a short distance away from the stockyards. The Longhorns run twice a day and we got there just in time to see the tail end of them coming down the street and into their paddock.

In the two decades following the Civil War, great herds of longhorn cattle were rounded up and driven North. The Fort Worth herd was established to preserve and celebrate the history of these awesome animals. 

After watching them, we wandered into the refurbished stockyard area which is now filled with shops and restaurants. 

The Longhorn General Store was one of the original Stockyard Station merchants that opened for business in 1992. It is still a family owned and operated business specializing in merchandise made in the State of Texas. They search the entire state of Texas for the best quality Texas merchandise and products to offer to the Stockyards visitors and guests. As a Texas family, they are very proud to be a pioneer merchant promoting Texas made products in the Historic Fort Worth Stockyards.

The Fort Worth Stockyards Company was created in 1893, when Boston capitalist Greenlief W. Simpson led a group of investors in purchasing the Forth Worth Union Stock Yards. Under Simpson's leadership, the company earned the support of the Texas Cattle Raisers Association and lured the prominent meatpacking companies of Armour and Swift to open plants here. Publicity through the company's market newspaper and annual fat stock show, both begun in 1896, resulted in a significant increase in the number of animals brought to market. The Stock Yards Company built the area's livestock related facilities and had controlling interest in many of North Fort Worth businesses and properties.

The first five decades of the 20th Century were the most successful for the Fort Worth Stock Yards Company. During World War I, foreign governments purchased draft animals, making Fort Worth the largest horse and mule market in the world. In 1917, overall livestock market receipts reached 3,500,000 and in 1944, sales exceeded 5,000,000 head of livestock. However, by the 1950s, local auctions were drawing sellers away from this central market. Today the Forth Worth Stock Co. continues as a significant part of the city's unique heritage.

White Elephant Saloon

The White Elephant Saloon is renamed "CD's Bar & Grill" for filming of the TV series Walker, Texas Ranger, staring Chuck Norris, who is a Texas resident.

Fort Worth's most famous gun fight took place in front of the White Elephant Saloon on February 8, 1887, creating a permanent place in Forth Worth history. Facing off was the saloon's owner Luke Short (a friend of Wyatt Earp, Bat Masterson and Doc Holliday) and T.I. "Longhair Jim" Courtright (a well-known marksman, a Deputy Fire Marshal, and former City Marshal). When the smoke and dust cleared, Courtright lay dying, his gun jammed before he could fire a shot. Lawmen investigated the duel, declared it legal and buried Courtright in Fort Worth's Oakwood Cemetery, located a short distance from the stockyards. Short sold his saloon and moved to Kansas, where he died in 1893. He was returned to Fort Worth and buried a stone's throw from Courtright.

In 1976, a group of Fort Worth investors reopened the White Elephant Saloon in the Forth Worth Stockyards National Historic District. The White Elephant's home is typical of buildings at the Stockyards that were constructed early in this century to house businesses catering to cowboys and livestock industry workers. There has been a saloon on this site since 1906. This building was erected in 1931 replacing the previous structure which was destroyed by fire. The upstairs, which now houses a 125-seat theater, has been used for union offices and gambling rooms. It was once home to songwriter Sandy Pinkard who penned the Mel Tillis hit recording "Cola Cola Cowboy" while residing there. Each year on February 8th a re-enactment of the Short-Courtright gunfight is staged here, commemorating Fort Worth's last great shootout.

Fort Worth Stockyards Entrance

Spanning Exchange Avenue, this gateway to the Forth Worth Stockyards was completed in 1910. It was a significant feat of concrete work for that era. The columns are 22 feet high and 13 feet in circumference. The sign is 36 feet long and 4 feet high. The entrance is a significant landmark in this historic part of Fort Worth.

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