The History of the Stockyards and the World’s Only “Twice-Daily” Cattle Drive
Famously known as “Cowtown,” Fort Worth’s charming little nickname comes from none other than the beloved bovine themselves. In the mid-to-late 1800s, Fort Worth was the last stop on the Chisholm Trail before the cowboys and their cattle crossed over the Red River into the hot, open plains. Drovers would leave Fort Worth with their lassos, cows—and booze, of course—to start their six-month-long journey to Kansas.
When the railroad came to Fort Worth in 1876, cowboys no longer had to make the long, treacherous journey up the Chisholm trail and could instead ship their cattle from directly in town. Because of this, Fort Worth became a major shipping point for cattle and other livestock. The Union Stockyards were built in 1876 two miles
North of the courthouse, as a place to house and keep the cattle.
In 1893, Boston capitalist Greenleif Simpson bought the Union Stockyards and changed the name to the Fort Worth Stockyards Company. It was not long after that they realized that instead of shipping live cattle, they could ship meat directly from town. This is when Fort Worth became a meatpacking hub with two major packing plants being constructed in short order. In 1902, construction of the plants started, and with them came the Livestock Exchange Building, where the telegraph, railroads, and livestock commission had offices. The meatpacking industry and related business brought Fort Worth so much wealth and success that we were given the nickname the “Wall Street of the West”
Although the stockyards took a major hit after the start of WWII, it is still a major part of Fort Worth’s business. The stockyards today are bustling with bars, restaurants and other businesses that pay tribute to the days of the “Wild West” where cowboys and drivers came from all over to drive cattle directly from Fort Worth.
Notably, the Stockyards is home to the world’s only twice-daily cattle drive. It’s held at 11:30 am & 4:00 pm every day of the year except Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter Sunday. Step back into time as you watch real cowboys drive cattle all the way up East Exchange Avenue. This thrilling event calls back to the thousands of cowboys who drove cattle all the way up to Kansas and made Fort Worth what it is today. The cattle drive is a MUST do on your next trip to Cowtown.
Written by Annie, a local expert guide for Fort Worth Crawling. After living in NYC for three years, this Fort Worth native is excited to return to her roots in Panther City. She enjoys traveling and the great outdoors and is passionate about the arts, community, tacos, and (of course) Texas beer. Join Annie for history and beer on Fort Worth Crawling’s Cowboy Pub Crawl!