Friday, August 8, 2014

Ride ‘Em Cowboy!

Cattle Drive in Fort Worth Stockyards
Every once in a while someone from out of state (or country) comes to visit us. They expect to see ‘real’ cowboys in boots, spurs and hats riding horses and herding cattle. It’s fun for us to show visitors around simply because we forget about the plethora of culture (both high and low) available to us in the DFW area. Much of what people visualize when they think of things typically Texan can only be experienced in the great out of doors.
Tarrant County Courthouse

In 1849 Fort Worth was established near the confluence of the West Fork and Clear Fork of the Trinity River. It was one in a line of forts that marked the beginning of the western US (hence the moniker, ‘Gateway to the West’). Years later it became a county seat and the Tarrant County Courthouse was built. Constructed from pink Texas granite, it looks much like the state capital in Austin. The county courthouse is still in use; there are other buildings for family, criminal, civil, city and federal courts. Near the courthouse is Sundance Square with its traditional western to modern architecture, places to eat, and shops.

Cowgirl on horse
Scenes from the Stockyards
About three miles away from the courthouse are the Fort Worth Stockyards. Historically, Cowtown was the last rest stop for herds of cattle being driven to railheads to then be shipped to markets all over the US. However, with the coming of the railroad, Fort Worth became a destination rather than simply a place to rest and resupply. And twice each day a cattle drive is re-created for the tourists. Longhorns and Mexican cattle amble through the streets accompanied by cowboys and cowgirls in traditional garb. Visitors are invited to rub the nose of a gentle cowpony and can even sit in a saddle on a very laid-back longhorn. Statues in the area commemorate the working cowboy and the Indians who passed through this area.

Reunion Tower and Pegasus
Cattle Drive Sculptures
While Fort Worth was and is focused on agriculture and livestock, Dallas is a center for fashion, banking and high tech. Thirty miles from Fort Worth and an hour away through typically high density traffic is Dallas. In the mid-1800s a small settlement was established near the Trinity River. Those early settlers would never recognize Reunion Tower or Pegasus (Flying Red Horse) that tops the Magnolia building. They would, however, be quite familiar with the herds of longhorns driven through Dallas to the stockyards in Fort Worth. Near the Dallas Convention Center is Pioneer Plaza with its cattle drive. The bronze statues were created by Glen Rose artist, Robert Summers. Adjoining the cattle drive area is a cemetery that hosts the remains of Dallas mayors and several Texas revolutionaries. Dallas is also a county seat boasting a gloriously colored courthouse. Old Red, as it is affectionately called, is now a museum housing memorabilia from days when only Indians roamed the area to the present. I’m partial to the Texas Centennial souvenirs that were collected and donated by one of my good friends, Carla Rucker Nix.
Old Red Courthouse Museum

'Cowboy Stadium' and
Cabela's dioramas
Rarely having experienced the Near-Normal August 100oF temperatures, our visitors were quite willing to see our indoor attractions. In Fort Worth some of my favorite stops include Cabela’s game display (free and your guests can buy sunscreen and a hat), The National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame, Amon G. Carter Museum of American Art, Kimbell and Modern Art Museums, Fort Worth Museum of Science and History and the Sid Richardson Museum. In Dallas I’m partial to the Old Red and African American Museums, the Nasher Sculpture Center, Crow Collection of Asian Art, Dallas Museum of Art and Perot Museum of Nature and Science. And of course, in Arlington, there are tours of AT&T Stadium (a.k.a. Cowboy Stadium) for sports lovers.

Bronze cattle drive sculptures
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