Fort Worth, Texas, is often credited as the “birthplace” of the American West. In the 1800s, it was teeming with cattle, cowpokes, and stagecoach robbers. Today, the Fort Worth Stockyards, sitting about 35 miles (56 kilometers) west of Dallas, is a popular tourist attraction that works hard to preserve the history of the Wild West.
Between 1866 and 1890, cattle herders moved over four million head of cattle through Fort Worth, earning it the nickname of “Cowtown.” After the railroad was built, Fort Worth became a bustling livestock shipping hub, and the Union Stockyards were born. After World War II, the cattle trade at the Stockyards began to decrease because of an increase in trucking and a decrease in railway trade.
In the 1980s, the North Fort Worth Historical Society established the stockyards as a historic site, renaming them the “Fort Worth Stockyards National Historic District.” Among the restored landmarks and cobbled brick streets, visitors can tour a museum dedicated to the preservation and history of Fort Worth’s livestock heritage.
The Stockyards are also home to the only twice-daily cattle drive in the world and a weekly cattle sale that moves thousands of heads of cattle each week. After a day spent experiencing the Old West, visitors can take in a show, do some shopping, or sit down for dinner in one of the Stockyard’s world-famous restaurants.
There are plenty of activities for guests of all ages – from the many authentic Western saloons for adults to the petting zoo and cattle pen maze for kids. There is even a weekly rodeo and staged “gunfights.”
With western culture carefully preserved in the smallest details, the Fort Worth Stockyards National Historic District is a unique glimpse into the cattle rustling and gunslinging heritage of America’s Wild West.