Fort Worth celebrates the

150th Anniversary

of the Chisholm Trail

Explore the Trail

Sundance Square: Chisholm Trail Mural

Make sure to snap a selfie in front of the Chisholm Trail Mural in Sundance Square Plaza. The mural was painted by Richard Haas in 1985 and pays homage to the legendary cattle drives of the late 19th century.

Sundance Square

Discover the people and events that shaped Fort Worth’s rich history via the Heritage Trail Historic Markers throughout downtown. Each bronze plaque details a historic event that happened along the trail. Download the full map here.

Sundance Square: Fort Worth Visitor Information Center
508 Main Street

Stop by the downtown Fort Worth Visitor Information Center and learn about the history of the cattle drives along the permanent Fort Worth timeline exhibit. While you’re there pick up a Chisholm Trail 150 souvenir at the Fort Worth Store.

Sundance Square: T&P Station

The original trail entered downtown near the T&P Station and traveled along Commerce Street, which was then called Rust Street. The street name was changed to Commerce because the street in Hell’s Half Acre was lined with brothels and was therefore disrespectable to Mr. Rust, a leader in the Republic of Texas. T&P Station is now home to the TRE the commuter train that connects Fort Worth to Dallas.

Downtown: Hell's Half Acre
1502 Commerce Street

Designed by architect Phillip Johnson, the Fort Worth Water Gardens opened in downtown in 1974 on a just over four acre site. The area itself used to be known as Hell’s Half-Acre when it was full of brothels and saloons, and the Water Gardens were a way to revitalize the area. There are two Heritage Trail Markers at the north end of the park.

Downtown: Acre Distilling & Coffee House
1309 Calhoun Street | AcreDistilling.com

Acre Distilling & Coffee House, whose craft spirits are inspired by the lawmen and infamous outlaws of Hell’s Half Acre, sits off Commerce Street beckoning patrons to sit a spell.

Sundance Square: Sid Richardson Museum
309 Main Street | SidRichardsonMuseum.org

Stop in the Sid Richardson Museum and view the private collection of Chisholm Trail-era guide books, maps and more. The museum will also host multiple lectures and family story times throughout 2017.

Sundance Square: Wells Fargo stage coach

Venture upstairs to the second floor of the Wells Fargo building and view an overlooked history gem, the historic stage coach.

Downtown: Proud History mural

“Proud History,” a five-part mural in clay tiles displayed at the Fort Worth Intermodal Center, depicts the history of African-American businesses and life in the neighborhood between 1865 and 1940.

Stockyards National Historic District

After the trail drives in the late 1880s, Fort Worth leaders sought to establish a strong position in the cattle industry by establishing a Stockyards using the growing number of rail lines serving the city.

Stockyards National Historic District: The Fort Worth Herd

A living embodiment of life on the Chisholm Trail, the Fort Worth Herd was created to honor the industry the city is rooted in. Everything from the chaps to the hats is authentic to the time period. The world’s only twice-daily cattle drive occurs daily at 11:30 a.m. and 4 p.m. 

Stockyards National Historic District: Vaquero de Fort Worth

On the corner of present-day North Main Street and Central Avenue, one will find the statue Vaquero de Fort Worth. The statue pays homage to the Hispanic cattlemen who developed the techniques for handling cattle on the long, dusty drives.

Stockyards National Historic District: Cowtown Coliseum
121 E. Exchange Avenue | StockyardsRodeo.com

The first Fort Worth Stock Show & Rodeo was held outdoors alongside Marine Creek in 1896, bordering what is now the historic Stockyards. In 1908, the Cowtown Coliseum was constructed to be the official home of the Stock Show & Rodeo and currently is home to the world’s only year-round rodeo held every Friday and Saturday night. Many rodeo events evolved from the practiced of handling cattle.

Stockyards National Historic District: Quanah Parker
132 E. Exchange Avenue

Quanah Parker’s involvement in Fort Worth’s rise to the of the cattle industry is no small one. Attacks on the trail were imminent, which drove straight through the Comanche reservation, yet Parker leased land to ranchers to hold their cattle. You can view a statue dedicated to him in front of the Hyatt Place Stockyards Hotel.

Stockyards National Historic District: The Texas Cowboy Hall of Fame

The Texas Cowboy Hall of Fame has the Chisholm Trail exhibit which is composed entirely of artifacts including: saddles, spurs, hats, guns, chaps, and many objects and maps. The exhibit tells the story of the trail.

Stockyards National Historic District: The Texas Trail of Fame

Many of The Texas Trail of Fame bronze markers in the Fort Worth Stockyards have been dedicated to persons related to the Chisholm Trail, including: the trail drivers, Oliver Loving, Charles Goodnight, C.C. Slaughter, John Ware, and more.

Stockyards National Historic District: Stockyards Station

Make sure to check out the Horse and Mule Barns, The Livestock Exchange Building – once referred to as “The Wall Street of the West,” and Stockyards Station.

The Cultural District

The Cultural District has housed the Fort Worth Stock Show & Rodeo at Will Rogers Memorial Center (WRMC) since 1944. The show exhibits numerous elements and events related to cattle drive era and numerous horse and cattle events are held at WRMC throughout the year. Numerous sculptures and public artworks relating to the cattle industry adorn the facility. The bronze statue of John Justin is especially relevant because the Justin Boot Company began at the Red River crossing of the Chisholm Trail. The company headquarters is in Fort Worth, and their boots are sold many places in town, including at their outlet store on Vickery.

The Cultural District: Cattle Raisers Museum

The Cattle Raisers Museum located inside the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History is redesigning its exhibit space, which is set to reopen May 2017. The Museum will now focus on early heritage including the Cattle Drive Era.

The Cultural District: National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame

Many of the National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame inductees include individuals with strong connections to major ranching families as well as those who have excelled in equestrian events connected to working cattle, such as cutting.

The Cultural District: Amon Carter Museum of American Art

The Amon Carter Museum of American Art has an extensive art and photography collection relating to cattle heritage, including Russell and Remington art and Erwin Smith photography.

The Cultural District: Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth

The Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth is the oldest art museum in Texas and one of the oldest museums in the western United States. The Modern was chartered in 1892 as the Fort Worth Public Library and Art Gallery, but the name and mission have evolved over the years.

Near Southside

The Chisholm Trail came through central Fort Worth from the south along what is now Hemphill. In 1923, 166 markers were placed along the trail route which was then called the McCoy Cattle Trail on these markers. One marker remains in Ryan Place.

Top Ten Things

to know about the Chisholm Trail

1. What is a cattle drive?

It is the movement of cattle to from one location to another, generally for purpose of selling cattle and/or moving cattle to other pastures. The most famous large cattle drives were from Texas to Kansas after the Civil War.

2. What was the route of the Chisholm Trail?

The cattle taken along the Chisholm Trail came from South Texas toward San Antonio and straight north past Belton, Waco, and Fort Worth before crossing the Red River.

3. Who was Jesse Chisholm?

Chisholm (1805 – 1868) was an important trader and plainsman of Scottish and Cherokee background. He was fluent in 14 Native American languages, and was important in many treaties between Native American tribes and governments. His trading route was used by cattle drives and the Chisholm Trail name was taken on for the length of this cattle trail.

4. What were the various names for the Chisholm Trail?

According to the Texas Historical Commission, the Chisholm Trail had various other names, including the McCoy Trail, the Great Texas Trail, the Cattle Trail, the Eastern Trail, and the Kansas Trail.

5. What is the trail name controversy?

Some people assert that the Chisholm Trail was not in Texas and that it only started in Oklahoma. However, according to the Texas Historical Commission, in common usage, the name Chisholm Trail was applied to extensions of the original Jesse Chisholm Trail both to the north and to the south the length of Texas. The major books on the Chisholm Trail by Wayne Gard and Don Worcester also take this position on the name of the trail in Texas. In addition, the federal legislation directing the study of the Chisholm Trail and Western Trail also take this view of the appropriate name in Texas.  

6. Where did the trail come through Fort Worth?

Many of the trail drives came through downtown Fort Worth along the street now named Commerce Street and bedded down the cattle north of downtown into the Stockyards. The trail drover purchased supplies in Fort Worth before going further north.

7. Who was Joseph McCoy? 

Joseph McCoy (1837 – 1915), a cattle trader, was largely responsible for creating the Chisholm Trail. He convinced a railroad exte nsion to Abilene, Kansas where he developed cattle pins needed to put the cattle on rail cars. He then promoted the route taken by the trail drivers.

8. Why was it necessary to take the cattle to Kansas?

Millions of cattle running wild in Texas after the civil war were worth only $2 or a head or less in Texas but worth $15 to $25 a head if taken to a railhead in Kansas. The money from the sale of cattle in Kansas was responsible for bringing Texas out of economic depression after the Civil War.

9. How many cattle traveled along the Chisholm Trail?

From the start of the trail drives in 1867 to 1871, over one million longhorns were taken to the Kansas railhead. It is estimated that 10 million longhorns went up the Chisholm and the Western Trail before new rail lines to Texas made the long trail drives no longer necessary.

10. How large were the individual trail drives?

The typical herd going up the trail included approximately 2,500 cattle, 10 to 12 cowboys, a remuda of extra horses, and a chuck wagon for food and gear.

Tour Texas Along the Trail

Texas Holiday Travel offers a complete Chisholm Trail itinerary. Begin your journey where it all started and explore major Texas cities along the way. The Texas Holiday Travel tour will take you Corpus Christi, San Antonio, Austin, Fort Worth, Waco and more. Click here to take a glimpse at what the tour offers.

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