I ended our last blog post with our visit to McFarland House, but the day did not conclude there. We hopped in our van (aka the “iceberg”) and headed to the historic Fort Worth Stockyards. Beginning in the 1860’s, the city of Forth Worth was the last major stop for cattle drovers heading up the Chisholm Trail before heading into Native American Territory. Here, cattlemen stocked up on supplies and enjoyed rest and relaxation. During the next two decades more than four million head of cattle made their way through Fort Worth earning it the nickname, “Cowtown.” The arrival of the railroad in 1876 made this district a bustling center for business that included livestock shipping, packing houses, auction blocks, saloons and hotels. The thriving business at the Stockyards earned it the title of “The Wall Street of the West.” The rise of the trucking industry, among other factors, eventually lessened the significance of the area as a business center.
In 1976, it was officially designated with the title of National Historic District. While some buildings, including historic packing plants, were lost, many were saved from the wrecking ball giving the district its unique western flair. In fact, Fort Worth can boast as having the last standing stockyards in the country! The Stockyards today continues to celebrate and preserve Fort Worth’s rich cattle industry history by maintaining an active stockyard with a variety of animals (a huge bonus for our animal-loving staff), shops, bars (including Billy Bob’s known as the world’s largest “honky tonk”), and a rodeo. Visitors can also enjoy an old-time cattle drive down the main street, called Exchange Avenue, twice daily.
Now, you can’t travel and not try local cuisine. Up to this point, we had been in town two days and we had had a number of people tell us to eat at a restaurant called Joe T. Garcia’s (apparently, word of mouth has been a traditional way of advertising for this eatery since day one). I mentioned our staff loves animals, well, we also love eating so off we went to Joe T. Garcia’s! The restaurant has a very interesting history; founded in 1935 with a capacity of only sixteen people, the business soon gathered local fame as people would wait for hours to eat its delicious enchiladas and homemade tortillas. The seating capacity today is 1,000 with the location spread out over one city block. If you ever visit, don’t be surprised by the lack of menus. You can choose from either enchiladas or fajitas but trust me, you will have food galore! You can see in the pictures below we had plenty of leftovers!
After satisfying our bellies and getting a good night’s rest, we rose bright and early for a visit to the Forth Worth Water Gardens built in 1974 and designed by architects Philip Johnson and John Burgee. The park serves as an oasis from the hustle and bustle of the concrete jungle and let me tell you, it certainly is! There are three focal pools of water including the main “Active Pool” which has a series of terraces leading down into its center. It can be very intimidating climbing all the way down as the water rushes below you at every step; beware if you suffer from vertigo. The “Quiet Pool” takes you down 20 feet by a series of steps which gives an “Alice in Wonderland” illusion of falling down the rabbit hole. Once at the bottom, folks are treated to a serene blue pool flanked by tall, overlooking cypress trees. The walls around you are dressed by gently cascading water in stark contrast to the rushing waters of the main waterfall. Pool number three, known as the “Aerating Pool” is composed of a series of sprinklers designed to spray up to walking level thus creating the illusion that one can indeed walk on water! I was told that on sunny days this pool reflects incredible rainbows!
At this point we switched gears and drove to the Amon Carter Museum of American Art and the Kimbell Art Museum in Fort Worth’s Museum District. However, that experience I will save for part 3 of this story!