Cattle, Cowboys, and Culture at the Fort Worth Stockyards

by Penny Sadler /
Penny Sadler's picture
Feb 20, 2014 / 0 comments

In the historic Ft. Worth Stockyards, you can imagine what it must have been like when Fort Worth was truly the place "Where The West Begins." Due to a treaty signed in 1843 between the many indigenous Indian tribes and the Republic of Texas, Ft. Worth became a dividing line - everything east of Ft. Worth was settled civilized land; everything west was Indian territory.


The area known as the Stockyards today was originally a place for cowboys (driving cattle to markets) to stop and let their herds graze - and take a bit of respite themselves. Ft. Worth was the last stop before crossing into hostile territory.


Cattle, Cowboys, and Culture at the Fort Worth Stockyards


It wasn’t until the late 1890s that the founding fathers of Fort Worth opened the first meat packing plants. Cattle, hogs, and sheep were processed and then shipped via the Texas-Pacific Railroad to markets in the north. In its heyday, the Stockyards slaughtered 1,500 - 2,000 cattle per day.

You can still see the remains of some of the pens for the animals, the old railroad tracks, and the ruins of the Swift and Armour meat packing empire on the hill to the east. There are some interesting photos of the ruins here.

Today, the Stockyards are a huge tourist attraction, and visitors from all over the world come to experience a little bit of what life was like where the west begins. You will see plenty of real cowboys - and if you go on a weekend, a fair share of urban cowboys and cowgirls, too.


Fort Worth Stockyards Rodeo Shop


Top 5 Things to do at the Ft. Worth Stockyards


Experience a cattle drive

Twice a day, you can watch the Fort Worth herd as it makes its way down Exchange Ave. Witness a bit of history replayed before your eyes as the cowhands crack their bull whips, while driving the herd.

The best place for viewing is in front of the Stockyards Station or the Visitor’s Center.

Daily at 11:30 am and 4:00 pm.


Ft Worth Stockyards Parade


Ft Worth Stockyards Daily Parade



Shop for custom cowboy boots at M.L. Leddy’s

Leddy’s has been open in the Stockyards since 1941. It’s well-known as the place for made to order cowboy boots and saddles.  Any color, design, size, or heel height you desire is possible. Made to order boots will set you back a minimum of about $800. Even if you don’t spring for boots, have a walk through the store. The quality of the merchandise is excellent, and the people are friendly and don’t mind you having a browse around.


Shopping for custom cowboy boots at M.L. Leddy's, Ft Worth Stockyards


M.L. Leddy's cowboy boots! Ft Worth Stockyards


Eat some meat

Cattlemen’s Steak House, open since 1947, is internationally known as one of the best places to eat corn-fed beef.  I once did a photo shoot there with ex-Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Terry Bradshaw for Travel and Leisure magazine. You never know who you might see there.

2455 N. Main St.

H3 Ranch on Urbanspoon


Cattleman's Steak House, Ft Worth Stockyards


H3 Ranch Hickory Grill on the corner of Main St. and Exchange Ave. serves finger-licking hickory smoked meats and fish. The portions are big (like Texas), and the atmosphere is larger than life, too.  I think the three Hunter brothers who founded H3 may have been pioneers in creating an upscale casual dining experience where your food is cooked in front of you. They are known for their steaks of course, but I love the trout, which is also hickory smoked.

Corner of Main and Exchange Ave.

H3 Ranch on Urbanspoon


H3 Ranch Hickory Grill, Ft Worth Stockyards



Go to the Rodeo

Watch Bull riding, Tie-down roping, Breakway Roping, Team Roping, Girls Barrel Racing, and more at the Stockyards Championship Rodeo.

Located at the Cowtown Coliseum, the rodeo is open every Friday and Saturday night at 8:00 pm.

121 Exchange Ave.


Stockyards Rodeo, Fort Worth, Texas



Learn to line dance

Billy Bob’s is the largest Honky Tonk in the world. Open seven days a week, there’s something for everyone at Billy Bob’s.

You can take a free line dance lesson, or watch the real cowboys ride in the indoor arena on Friday and Saturday nights. For the brave urban cowboy, there’s a mechanical bull.

Billy Bob’s is also known for top live entertainment, such as Robert Earl Keen, Dwight Yoakam, and Pat Green.

2520 Rodeo Plaza


Hot tip:

Park your car and then walk, as everything is located within a few blocks. On weekends it’s crowded, but during the week you can have the place to yourself.


Fort Worth Stockyards area



Penny Sadler is the Style/Travel Editor for Wandering Educators. For more information on traveling in style, please see and

All photos courtesy and copyright Penny Sadler



Cattle, Cowboys, and Culture at the Fort Worth Stockyards

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