Fort Worth, a half hour from Dallas, a century apart


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Photo by Bob & Sandy Nesoff
Photo by Bob & Sandy Nesoff

Ft. Worth revels in its reputation as a cowtown as opposed to the concrete and steel buildings of nearby Dallas. The flavor of the old days is still very much alive as exhibited by the daily longhorn cattle drive down the main drag of the Stockyards District much the same as a century ago.

Fort Worth is only a half hour drive from Dallas, but the two cities are not only miles apart, they have a breach of centuries.

Dallas is a big, business-like city while Fort Worth still revels in its history as a major cowtown.  Add to that the fact that arguably the last great gun fight of the Old West took place in its historic Stockyards section, but major league baddies like Bonnie and Clyde were visitors.

Although it is a modern and big city, Ft. Worth revels in the cloak of an old cattle town. The Stockyards section still has the feel of a century ago.  A true Western saloon, the White Elephant was the scene in many episodes of TVs “Walker, Texas Ranger” series and sports artifacts from the show.  The walls and ceiling are covered by signed cowboy hats ( http://www.whiteelephantsaloon.com).

Directly across the street is the historic Stockyards Hotel that in 1933 played host to Bonnie and Clyde.  Her revolver is on display in the junior suite named for the notorious couple.  Others who have put head to pillow in other rooms there include Willie Nelson, Trisha Yearwood and Tanya Tucker (http://www.stockyardshotel.com).  The hotel exudes atmosphere and is decorated in period saddles, paintings and such.

Adjacent to the hotel is the H3 Steakhouse with, arguably, Fort Worth’s best steaks.  Best make reservations for H3 because it is always busy with locals and that’ll tell you something about the fare.

Between H3 and the hotel is a saloon (doesn’t every Old West town have a number of saloons?)  This one draws tourists like flies.  The decoration is pure Wyatt Earp (who never visitedFort Worth) with saddles passing for seats at the bar.  Go in, take a picture.  No one will mind.

One of the attractions not to be missed comes around 4 p.m. Most days, a herd of long horn steers is herded down the main drag pushed on by a team of cowboys in full regalia.

At the train station the Grapevine-Ft. Worth train hauls visitors regularly.  One of the most beautiful sites is the amazingly carved woodwork produced by Ft.Worth native Mike Reznikoff.  His Reznikoff Custom Furniture has done projects for some of the area’s most famous residents (http://www.manta.com/c/mmj4wyz/reznikoff-custom-furniture-inc).

Y’all want Western Wear?  Adjacent to the White Elephant is the Maverick, a store selling everything from cowboy boots to rattlesnake skin hat bands.  Prices are competitive and you can even have your purchases shipped home (http://www.maverickwesternwear.com).

A must on any visit to Fort Worth is Billy Bob’s, a short walk from the Stockyards main drag.  This hot spot bills itself as the world’s “Biggest Honky Tonk” and that it may be.  But it is far and away the world’s greatest honky tonk.

Local cowboys and their women line up to get in, all wearing their finest 10-gallon hats, fancy boots and belt buckles the size of Texas.  There’s line dancing, bars galore and an indoor bull ring (http://billybobstexas.com).

One of the most notable museums is the National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame.

The Cowgirl offers an amazing display of recreated garments and headdresses worn by famous Indian chiefs.  The colorful feathers and beads attract the visitor immediately on entering the facility.  The upper level features displays of famed women rodeo queens and others such as Annie Oakley (http://www.cowgirl.net).

Next door in the museum complex is the Amon Carter Museum of Western Art with an amazing collection of painting by Frederick Remington and Charles Russell.  Paintings more than a century old, still vibrant with color depicting Native Americans, cavalry and cowboys adorn the walls of the expanded display (http://www.cartermuseum.org).

Forget what you’ve seen on television on the night time soap opera, Dallas. Fort Worth is the real Old West.