It's been a month of Sundays since millions of longhorns last tramped through Fort Worth en route to Kansas along the Chisholm Trail. But this summer, the Texas city, dubbed Cowtown, is reviving the tradition to mark its sesquicentennial--and corral some tourist business.
Twice a day, modern cowhands on horseback drive about 15 longhorns from the old Fort Worth Stockyards, across Exchange Avenue and out to graze near the Trinity River, a distance of about a mile. On weekends especially, the sight draws hundreds of spectators, many of whom linger in the shops and restaurants of the stockyards district and its restored 19th century buildings, said Gil Stotler, spokesman for the Fort Worth Convention & Visitors Bureau.
The six cowhands, known as "drovers" and paid by the city, are a diverse bunch, including an African American rancher, an X-ray technician (the only woman) and a Latino former truck driver. In fact, many minorities worked the herds in the last century, when Fort Worth was a major stop on the Chisholm, officials said.
The cattle drive had a short heyday in Fort Worth from about 1866 to 1876, when rail cars took over from ranch hands. Today the only "non-tourist" cattle at the old Fort Worth Stockyards are electronic ones, traded by satellite in twice-a-week auctions, Stotler said.
The cattle drives occur daily at 11:30 a.m. and 4 p.m. to Nov. 15. Viewing is free. Information: telephone (800) 433-5747.