Sundance Square, Fort Worth

Fort Worth: cattle and culture

Fort Worth is an easy day trip for us because we live in Dallas, a 45 minute drive away. We find something different to do every time, from the Old Stockyards to museums. That, in my opinion, sums Fort Worth up: cattle and culture.

Although there are many more things to see and do, these are my favourite.

From Camp Worth to Fort Worth

Fort Worth was one of ten forts proposed by U.S. Army General William Jenkins Worth to mark the west Texas frontier in 1849 as well as to face Native American threats. He died of cholera and a camp was established in his name on the Trinity River. Camp Worth was officially named Fort Worth on 14 November, 1849.

Pioneers settled near the fort and took possession of the site when the Army evacuated the fort in 1853. The booming cattle industry was its major source of income and earned the city the nickname “Cowtown.” The railways also played a key role in the growth of the city. In the 20th century, other industries, like meat packing companies and oil refineries, contributed to its economic boom.

Downtown and Sundance Square

Sundance Square Plaza, Fort Worth
The jetted fountain and the longhorn mural at Sundance Square Plaza

I love the mix of historic and new in downtown Fort Worth, the red brick from the 19th century reflected on the glass and steel of the 21st. Sundance Square is the city’s prime commercial district with hotels, offices, restaurants, bars, and boutiques. We have never spent the night here but I definitely would.

In warm weather, we sometimes like to sit in the shade and watch children squeal with delight in the jetted fountain in Sundance Square Plaza. The longhorn mural on the Houston Street side, behind the jetted fountain, represents the Ft. Worth stretch of the Chisholm Trail and was painted in 1985.

Stockyards National Historic District

longhortn cattel drive, historic Stockyards. Ft. Worth
A drover and his herd during one of the cattle drives.

With the advent of the railroad, Fort Worth became an important shipping point for cattle. In order to capitalize on the livestock trade, stockyards were built and were fully operational by 1889. The buildings in the present location were built in 1902. In the early 1970, operations were not profitable and in 1989, the North Fort Worth Historical Society opened the Stockyards Museum.

There is a cattle drive twice daily, at 11:30 and 4 pm. The 15 longhorn herd was created to celebrate the city’s 150th anniversary, one steer per decade. Fort Worth was the last chance for cattle drovers to purchase supplies before the three-month march to the railheads of Kansas. Nowadays, a drover dressed in a 19th century outfit drives the heard along Exchange Avenue. We’ve been twice, once with my sister and my nieces, and although it was freezing cold, we had a blast. The girls loved the fact that they were able to see and live a bit of authentic Texas cowboy culture, something that foreigners can only see on TV.


Kimbell Art Museum, Ft. Worth
One of the buildings of the Kimbell Museum

The Kimbell Art Museum is set on extensive grounds in the Cultural District, 3333 Camp Bowie Blvd. Admission is free of charge; however, there may be a fee for special exhibitions. The one-story buildings are modern and airy, with lots of natural light. The collections, although modest, span several centuries, continents and cultures. We visited the Kimbell last weekend for the first time – ahem! – and were pleasantly surprised. I loved the serene atmosphere.

The Kimbell museum is across the street from the Will Rogers arena, where the rodeo championships take place. Cattle and culture indeed.

How to get there from Dallas

By car or by train: the Trinity Railway Express (TRE) connects the two cities.




18 thoughts on “Fort Worth: cattle and culture

  1. Tell you what, in warm weather it wouldn’t just be the children in that jetted fountain at Sundance Square – I would be right there with them!


  2. Yay, I’m so happy I found this post. I’m not very familiar with American West, but recently, in an attempt to change that, I’ve read “Lonesome Dove” by Larry McMurtry and this city was featured in the book. So happy to see how it looks now.


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