The Stockyards District gives one the rare opportunity to whoop it up on a real Longhorn. Two brawny Longhorn Steer were saddled and ready across from the Visitor's Center on Exchange Avenue. These powerfully built creatures were really mellow!
A handler stood nearby to oversee things and a tip was all that was required. Get a taste of the Old West and tickle your tailbone--this was a great souvenir to take home to show the family!
NOTE: During our walking tour, the guide informed us that the Longhorn Steers are all altered bulls. That enables the cowboys who accompany the cattle drive and the handlers to better control the beasts.
The Coliseum was built in 1908 for livestock exhibition and sits along historic Exchange Avenue in the Stockyards District. It's often the scene of excitement and mayhem!
Rodeos are held here every Friday and Saturday nights at 8pm, plus a Wild West show patterned after those from the early days of the West, which is scheduled for weekend afternoons. Although a transplant from the Northeast, I LOVE RODEOS!
The Coliseum has served as a cultural center and a background for many music videos, movies and even t.v shows, such as Walker, Texas Ranger on CBS. It has hosted appearances that range from Commanche Chief Quanah Parker in 1909 to Jimmy Carter in 1979.
The first U.S. indoor rodeo was held at this location in 1918 and would you believe, a young Elvis Presley sang here for $50 in 1956. The first radio broadcast of a rodeo was from the Coliseum.
The Coliseum offers a small, intimate sized ring for its events. We recently came to Ft. Worth to see the rodeo on a Saturday night. While in line waiting to enter the building, we watched the competitors sign up for the event, then saw them again in the show riding the broncs and roping the bulls inside. It was heart-thumpin' exciting!
Tickets for events can be purchased ahead and a seating chart is available on the website. Special holiday presentations of the Pawnee Wild West Show are scheduled throughout the year.
Fort Worth is a cow town. There are cattle drives through town twice a day - everyday, seven days a week, weather permitting.
Some people were upset that Dallas got the trail drive sculpture in Pioneer Plaze because they felt that Dallas was more of an oil town with more glitz. In any case, we'd been to see the longhorn sculptures in Frisco (stampede) and the one in Dallas, so we drove over to Fort Worth to see the 'in the flesh' recreation.
For this picture, I was across the street from the Visitor's Center near the Livestock Exchange. Bob and our daughter and granddaughter were on the other side of the street from me. The "Swift" part of the Armour Swift sign near the free parking lot is in the background.
11:30 a.m. ~ The Cattle Drive begins at the far east end of Exchange Avenue. Traveling west past the Stockyards Visitor's Center and Livestock Exchange Building , 131 E. Exchange, the cattle drive ends at Cowtown Coliseum.
4:00 p.m. ~ The Herd is driven back to the pens behind the Livestock Exchange Building.
Drives are not held on Easter Sunday, Thanksgiving Day, or Christmas Day.
Best places to observe
* Any Stockyards Station restaurant with outdoor seating
* In front of the Stockyards Visitors Center
* In front of the Livestock Exchange Building
* On the free observation deck of the Cowtown Cattlepen Maze. The deck is located on the northeast side of the Livestock Exchange Building, behind the parking lot.
Our guided tour covered the historic Stockyards area of Ft. Worth. One of our stops was at the Ft. Worth Stock Market where livestock is auctioned off on television.
This building was erected in 1902 as an office for cattle traders. We were invited to watch the proceedings taking place in the sales area.
On a large viewing screen we witnessed a nice looking horse sell for $800. The show was broadcasted from Shoshonee, Idaho this particular day.
Ranchers video-tape cattle for sale, as well. Last year 1.7 million cows were sold on RFD.tv. This unique process sells off livestock, then delivers them to your house by cattle truck. There is a broadcast from this location every other Friday.
Within the Stock Market the Ft. Worth Historical Society has a small museum that displays artifacts from the early days. There is no admission fee.
When we glimpsed our first rodeo, we loved the excitement of it! The rodeo is held at the Ft. Worth Coliseum on Friday and Saturday evenings. Tickets can be purchased over the internet or at the ticket window at the Coliseum.
Men, women and children performed that night in all kinds of competitions.Our particular rodeo was called the HY O Silver Buckle Series and featured:
Bull Riding Events,
Tie Down Roping,
Team Roping and
Each event was thrilling to watch and much appreciated by the cheering audience--I thought the bull riding was amazing! I grabbed a pic of one of the younger competitors that night!
A Calf Scramble brought kids from all ages out to the ring to snatch a yellow ribbon from the animals tail. The winner got a coupon for a pair of Justin Boots. It took some convincing, but our grandson tried his best at this contest and just about had the ribbon in his hands but missed by a hair! It was a fun two hours for all of us. Afterwards, our ticket stubs gained us entrance to Billy's Bob's Texas at no charge.
Tickets cost from $11.00 to $15.00 per person, depending on the location. A seating chart is available on the website.
Right in the middle of the Stockyards District is a looming statue of a cowboy wrestling a steer. This cowboy is Bill Pickett, the first black cowboy to be inducted into the Cowboy Hall of Fame.
Mr. Pickett was the top attraction at the Coliseum in his time, known for his unique performance in rodeo circuits.
Through the years, he had noticed that ranch dogs bit the lip of a steer it wanted to bring down when herding the animals. Bill applied a little good sense to the idea and made it part of his act. He roped the steer, then actually bit its lip to bring it under control. He did this time and time again, perfecting his technique and thrilling the audience with his ingenuity.
The CATTLEDRIVE is what originally drew us to Ft. Worth. This unique tradition still continues in the Stockyards area of the town and brings people from all over the country to see it.
Each day at 11:30 am and 4:00 p.m. a crowd begins gathering in front of the Stockyard's Visitor Center.
Excitement builds, then cowboys on horses herd a number of Longhorn Steer up the street while visitor's ooh and ah and cameras flash. The animals plod along for a couple of blocks, then disappear around the corner. It's a taste of the Old West!
At one time, these animals would be directed to either the Armour or Swift meat packing plant. Today they are part of a beloved tradition!
The Trail Drive is free and is a definite Must See. The other Must See in this area is the Historic Walking Tour. We didn't take this tour because it didn't work out time-wise for us, plus I have difficulty walking and I didn't think our 3 year old granddaughter would appreciate it, but it looked good. There are also tours for school groups;
Their website says: "To fully appreciate the exciting history of the Stockyards we recommend you take our guided walking tour from the Visitor's Center. Your expert guide will take you through the various sites of interest such as:
* Livestock Exchange Building - once considered the heartbeat of the Livestock Business
*Cowtown Coliseum - home of the world's first Indoor Rodeo
* Stockyards Station - former pig & sheep pens
* Cattlemen’s catwalk - panoramic view of the cattle pens
* Mule Alley - once the "Finest Stables in the World"
* Billy Bob’s Texas - "The World's Largest Honky Tonk" - Optional
* Trail of Fame
"The 12-minute video “The Spirit of the West” which gives the history of Fort Worth and the cattle business truly brings to life the importance of the buildings in the National Historic District. The video is shown throughout the day."
Walking Tours depart daily Monday - Saturday 10:00 a.m., 12:00 p.m., 2:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m. Sunday - 12:00 p.m., 2:00 p.m., and 4:00 p.m.
Cowboy Tour (Adult) $7.00
Cowboy Tour (Senior 65+) $6.00
Cowboy (Child 6-12 yrs) $5.00
Step On Bus & Van Tours Are Also Available.
We also offer “Step-On” Tours. A guide will board your vehicle and deliver a running historic commentary as you view the Stockyards National Historic District from the comfort of your bus.
Step On Rate:
$50.00 per motor coach
$35.00 per mid size bus
$25.00 per van
James F. Dill Grocery is the earliest known tenant of the building and the exact date of construction is not known. William T. Stanford moved in 1912 -1914 and operated his furniture business. You can see this by the old painted sign out front. This beautiful building consist of a corbeled brick freize and lovely arched second floor windows. The corner of the storefront door is angled nicely at the intersection of Exchange and Ellis. Over the years it has been used as rooming houses or hotels. Now it serves as a wonderful Interior Design and furniture store.
Ranch House Trading Co.
Built in 1849 by Army Major Ripley Arnold and his troops as a outpost to protect settlers. By 1853 the frontier pushed west. Once the army abandon the fort it soon was taken up by settlers and become Fort Worth. If you love western history then you will love this place. It has all the making of the wild west still. The buildings are all maintained wonderfully and you can almost hear the voices of the past as you enter each building. Resturants, shops, museums, hotels and living history abounds here. It is most certainly a place to spend the day and explore. In fact, take the time to strike up a conversation from one of the locals and you'll be amazed at what you learn. Very friendly people work here, which makes a visit enjoyable.
If you are planning to visit the Historic Stockyards District, make sure you make plans to be there around 11:30 or 4pm daily. You will get the special treat of getting to see a live cattle drive when the cowboys of yesteryear drive their cattle down the road.
The key to bear in mind when enjoying this exhibition is to stay out of the way of these cattle. Although most of them are docile and happy to move over to a pen to receive food, if they are provoked, they do have nice big horns that may gore you. Better safe then sorry, so stay up on the curb!
During the middle of the 1800's the path between Texas and prime grazing country to the North was known as the Chisholm trail. When you look at a map of this path, Fort Worth naturally sticks out in your mind as an ideal location to re-supply before heading north across the Red River and into Indian country. As the cattle drivers grew in number and also head of cattle, the necessity came due to have some sort of system for keeping the cattle before they headed north. The Stockyards area was not the original location for this herding, but became much more viable in the late 1800's when it was determined that the best way to move the herds were via railroad, and the best place to put this railway was north of town by a couple miles, which is the current location of the stockyards.
The sheer numbers of animals that have moved through this area is amazing. In 1944, over 5 million head of livestock made it through this area, where as only 50,000 went through after 1986 annually.
These days, you only have to be worried about being run over by cattle two times a day, and most of the fun comes from inside the rodeo arena, but there is something for everyone here now.
Antique shopping, gifts and post cards, good dining, and of course the western activities such as mechanical bull riding, calf roping, and other things. Enjoy your time in the historical area!
This might be a bit of a tourist trap but it's free and takes only a few minutes so if you find yourself in the Stockyard District at 11:30am or 4pm you might as well take a few minutes to see it. It's billed as the world's only twice daily cattle drive, a team of cowhands drives a herd of longhorns along Exchange Avenue through the Stockyards. Everything about it is supposed to be authentic and historically accurate.
We had no trouble finding a spot to watch it, in the more crowded months you may find a bit larger of a crowd and may want to stake out a spot if you want to get photographs.
I did find the longhorns to be rather fascinating to look at, many of the ones with the longest horns looked like they could barely support the weight of the horns. Try as I might, I couldn't find any reason why they would have such longhorns or why it was beneficial to breed them so they'd get longer horns. What I did find about out them was that they were the 1st cattle in North America, evolved without human intervention and they can survive in harsh conditions but were nearly extinct in 1927 when the breed was saved by some folks from the US Forest Service. The longhorn is a beef cattle, the meat is leaner than other breeds and they are a very hardy breed.
After lunch, we headed to the Stockyard Historic District to have a look around, there are restaurants, shops and saloons up and down the street. We first headed to the Stockyard Station which is right off Exchange Avenue, we then made our way to the tourism office and then up and down the rest of Exchange Street popping into shops and for an ice cream along the way. At 4 pm we watched the Cattle Drive down Exchange Street and then headed over to Joe T. Garcia's for dinner and then finally to the Rodeo. A couple people made one last stop at Billy Bob's, the world's largest honky tonk, but I was tired and headed back to the hotel instead.
You can park once for all of this although we did move the car to go to Joe T. Garcia's, we probably could have walked and we certainly could have walked if Cattlemen's Steakhouse had been that evening. On the weekend you can park for $5 all day in a lot off Exchange Street around the center of that block.
Walking past this place you may not take too much notice except for the enticement of ice cream or dessert advertised on the window. The name certainly gives no indication as to what can be found in this old historic saloon building in the stockyards. Inside there is the finest and largest privately owned collections of Texas art which has been put together by A.C. 'Ace' Cook who owned successful pawnshops until he became interested in Texas painters and their art. There is also many original early photographs from around Texas and many old advertising signs.
The art has been collected over about 30 years and in the 'Hockshop Collection'? there are more than 400 pieces - 70 of which are on the walls of The Bull Ring. Works include pieces such as May Schow's 'Mexican Girl' (1935), William Elliott's 'Workers Dallas' (1939), Dawson Dawson-Watson's 'Roses in the Hills' (1938), Olin Travis' 'Tom' (1937) and Frank P. Fisher Jr.'s 'Still Life with Green Grapes' (1939) and Douglas Chander's 'phonso Harrison' (1933). There are plenty of stories to go with the artwork as well.
While you are admiring the artwork you can order coffee, beer and sodas or Henry's homemade ice cream, smoothies, cheesecake or other desserts.