Tuesday, November 9, 2021

A Day at the Fort Worth Stockyards

We start to explore some of the areas around our new home with a day trip to the Fort Worth Stockyards National Historic District, a district packed with museums, historic sites, 14 restaurants, 13 bars, and multiple entertainment venues in the restored horse and mule barns of the stockyards and the old train station.  Not to mention, the twice-a-day cattle drive down the main street and Billy Bob's, the world's largest honky-tonk.

Between 1866 and 1980, drovers headed more than four million head of cattle through Fort Worth and the city became known as "Cowtown."  When the railroad arrived in 1876, Fort Worth became a major shipping point for livestock, at which time the city built the Union Stockyards, later renamed the Fort Worth Stockyards Company.  The investors in the stockyards realized that instead of shipping cattle off to other markets to be processed, they would be better off building meat packing plants nearby to keep the business in the city and, around 1900, they persuaded Armour & Co. and Swift & Co. to build plants near the Stockyards.

Welcome to the Stockyards

As we enter the stockyards, we first run across a mechanical bull ride for all to try.

Mechanical bull

Behind the mechanical bull is a field of longhorn cattle, just hanging out.

Longhorn cattle at rest

Beware of the cattle

Texas longhorns weigh around 900-1,200 pounds (400-550 kg) for cows and 1,200 to 1,500 pounds (550-680 kg) for bulls and their horns can spread up to six feet.

More longhorns hanging out

Nearby, we find pony rides, stagecoach rides, and horse rides around the Stockyards.

Pony and horse riding

Stagecoach rides

Before we explore some more, we stop in for Texas barbeque at Risky's, where they've been making and serving it since 1927.  In 1911, Joe Risky came to Fort Worth to work in the Armour Meat Packing Company in the Stockyards and later opened Risky's Grocery and Market nearby, then started serving lunch, and now we get the full experience.  We start with fried pickles and each get a barbeque sandwich, with one each of chopped beef brisket, sliced beef brisket, and pulled pork

Fried pickles, sandwich and fries

After lunch, we wander through the stockyards some more, meandering through the streets, generally headed toward Billy Bob's.

Stockyard sights

Daily rodeo in the coliseum

We pay the cover charge and enter Billy Bob's, the world's largest honky-tonk with 3 acres of space inside, room for 6,000 people, an indoor rodeo arena for professional bull riding, a Texas-sized dance floor, and something for everybody.

Welcome to Billy Bob's

Inside Billy Bob's

Band warming up

Back outside Billy Bob's, we head over to the maze, built in old cattle pens, then watch the twice-daily cattle drive down the main street


Cattle drive

Meanwhile, back at the station, the train has pulled in and is loading up for the next excursion.

Train pulling in

It's been a fun day at the Stockyards and we're looking forward to more exploration of the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

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