One of the most romanticized ways of American life is probably that of the cowboy. Life on the range, riding all day, camping out at night playing the harmonica around the campfire, eating meals from the cookwagon, living the life of a nomad - seems pretty great. In reality, Texas cattlemen would drive their herd northward to the railhead of the Kansas Pacific Railway where they were then shipped eastward. The trip was hazardous for both cattle and cowboy - it could take 2 to 3 months and 2 major rivers had to be crossed, along with Indian attacks and cattle stampedes. One of the towns on this cattle driving trail was Fort Worth, Texas. And the Stockyards area of Fort Worth shows visitors what it was like back in the day.
We recently attended a wedding in the Dallas -Fort Worth area, and decided to go check out what the Stockyards had to offer. Located outside the city of Fort Worth, the Stockyards hold daily cattle drives (with the exception of Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas) at 11:30 and 4:00. Cowboys drive the cattle from one end of the Stockyards district to the holding pen at the other end, as it would have been done way back when. There are restaurants, hotels, shops, bull riding and The World's Largest Honky Tonk, Billy Bob's.
Our first stop was Billy Bob's. I wanted to see what all the fuss was about. We had thought we might eat lunch here but it was still a bit early for lunch and Billy Bob's was just getting started for the day, cleaning up from a concert the night before.(Be forewarned: There is a $2 fee per person just to enter, even in the daytime.) We walked around and took photos trying to imagine what it was like at night. So off we went to see to the rest of The Stockyards.
Between 1866 and 1890 more than four million cattle were trailed through Fort Worth which was the last major stop for rest and supplies before hitting the Red River and Indian Territory. Fort Worth soon became known as Cowtown - and the rowdy area of disrepute south of the Courthouse became known as "Hell's Half Acre."
The Stockyards area has it's own visitor center so you can get a lay of the land. Known for it's steak dinners, Cattlemen's Steakhouse has been around since 1947 and has parking for patrons.( Pricey but supposedly fantastic - we didn't eat here) You can also see the marker for The Chisholm Trail, catch a glimpse of the original railroad (now it goes through shops and restaurants) and even catch a cowboy hanging out on a street corner. And don't forget about the cattle drives at 11:30 and 4:30! There's roving entertainment, too. We had lunch at The White Elephant Saloon and listened to some music while watching a coupla dancers glide across the wooden dance floor.
The Stockyards is a fun outing - especially for kids, or kids at heart. I knew very little about cowboy history or way of life before I visited - and I learned alot. So if you're enamored of cowboy culture, or even if it's not your cup of tea, give The Stockyards a try. You might be surprised to find out how much you can learn - or how much you'll enjoy it!
PS Bragging rights to whoever can name the singer of this post's title - Without.Googling. It . Cause that doesn't count!
I'm linking up with : Travel Photo Thursday at Budget Travelers Sandbox, The Weekly Postcard at Travel Notes and Beyond, Weekend Travel Inspiration at Reflections Enroute and Weekend Wanderlust at A Brit and A Southerner ! Go visit them for some travel inspiration!