Established at the fork of the Trinity River in 1849 by Major Ripley Arnold, the Fort Worth Stockyards represented the last “civilized” outpost for cowboys driving cattle to market along the famous Chisholm Trail. By the mid-1870’s, Fort Worth had become a major center for the buying and shipping of livestock, thanks to the Texas & Pacific Railroad. It soon became known as “Cowtown”.
Between the 1880’s and 1950’s, the Fort Worth Stockyards grew to become the largest livestock-trading center in the southwest, and during the Great Depression, in the country. Cattle, hogs and sheep were bought and sold here, and with the building of the Horse and Mule Barns in 1912, the Stockyards hosted the largest horse and mule market in the U.S. during the First World War. The Stockyards continued to grow throughout the next few decades, reaching a commercial peak during the 1940’s.
The 1950’s signaled a shift from rail transportation to the less expensive, more flexible trucking industry, and business gradually declined at the Stockyards as trading moved to countryside auctions. Today, live auctions at the Stockyards are primarily restricted to prize-winning bulls and “show” longhorns, bought and displayed for their fine lines and stunning animal beauty.
This authentic historic district has become a hub for those interested in the rich legacy of the old west, a must-see mecca for those wanting to experience a piece of the past and learn more about what it was like to drive cattle along the trail to a thriving destination where cowboy culture and commerce intersected. With its current collection of attractions, re-enactments, tours, live-animals, restaurants, rodeo, lodging and retail stores, the Stockyards are once again a thriving and vibrant destination, attracting visitors from around the country and across the globe. And with exciting plans for future development, the Stockyards, influenced by a rich history, has a bright and exciting future.