We’d decided to explore Fort Worth – aka Cowtown – today and with the temperature rising (26C at 10am) we parked the car as near Sundance Square as we could and set off on Shanks Pony.
We wandered around a little but discovered that Sundance Square doesn’t really wake up till 11 or thereabouts so downtown was a little quiet to say the least.
So we focused on other things.
Whilst we’d been looking for a parking space, I’d spotted the Bass Hall and thought it was worth walking back to take a closer look at those angels.
Well, things are bigger in Texas, don’t they say?
We thought that by now, the shops in the Mall should be open, but however hard we pulled, the door wouldn’t open.
So we wandered through the square itself, lingering by the cool fountain, admiring the Cowtown mural painted – or was it mosaic? – to commemorate the Chisholm Trail.
Now, as we stood opposite a branch of the Worthington Bank, I spotted something in the windows. In fact, in every window of the banking hall, there was a Longhorn hanging there. I just had to take a closer look!
So I went in. in my very best English accent, I ooohed and aaahed – because the interior made me ooh and aah! I’d never seen such a quaint bank, where each teller was sitting behind a desk in a wrought iron enclosure. References to the origin of the Fort Worth finances were all around me, with bronze cattle, paintings of cattle and yes, those wall mounted cattle. The staff were simply delightful and having chatted about the weather (well, what else!?) I offered my profuse thanks and left them to their work.
Just down the road was another Fort Worth insitution. M J Leddy’s. Situated in the oldest department store with “manufactured air” on this side of the Mississippi, we took the opportunity to step inside, to cool off a little and to take a look around.
There was a distinctive Texas style to the goods on sale here and attractive though many of them were, they’d look a bit out of place beyond the State Line I fear.
Maybe not the best footwear for negotiating a Cotswold lane, either? With a glance at the paraphernalia for carrying such boots around, not to mention all the hat accessories (carrying cases, stretchers and so on) we made our way back to the car to move on to the next thing on our list.
Sacagewea stood outside; she of the Lewis and Clark expedition, whom we’ve encountered on several previous occasions.
On the opposite side was a rather sentimental bronze of a woman with a horse.
We were at the National Cowgirl Museum.
Actually, the building itself was rather interesting, built in Art Deco style and set apart from other museums in the Fort Worth Cultural Quarter.
Inside was bright and fresh. This purpose-built museum was full of the spirited characters who called themselves cowgirls: women who had proved capable of moving thousands of cattle singlehanded over lengthy trails across the country; who had ridden in rodeos and starred in films as stunt doubles and just one or two who had become household names: Annie Oakley for example.
We really enjoyed the exhibitions and were amazed at how much detail was in there and how much fun there was to be had with some of the interactive features though we drew the line at having a go riding the bucking bronco!
One of our favourite features was about Jessie the Toy Story Cowgirl who, it was decided, would never, ever wear a skirt. Looks like they found a different model for the sign, then!
#3 on our list was the Science Museum next door, so we hurried through the midday heat and into the cool foyer. Mindful of the fact we’d had the Cowgirl Museum more or less to ourselves, what we found inside here came as a bit of a shock –NOISE! Like any Science Museum, this one was a popular place for families and oh my, could we tell! Not only that, but the exhibits were a wee bit, well, juvenile for us – who was it who said this would be a great place to come?
Actually one small corner made up for the whole of the rest. After a cold drink and a bite to eat, we made our way to the Cattle Ranchers exhibit.
See? I’d been so shell shocked by the craziness I hadn’t even taken a photograph until now!
Here, we learned about the business of Cowtown; how the cattle were herded on the plains, brought into town and driven to the railhead.
One exhibit fascinated me: This head dress was exactly as I had always imagined a Native American Chief’s head dress to be. How interesting to see it at close quarters.
Then came the answer to another small mystery that has reared its head in Fort Worth.
There was a whole display and full explanation of the importance of barbed wire in enclosing the plains. Not only that, but it seems as though there were more than 500 patented designs with thousands of variations. Wow.
So that explains why our hotel room number has this design upon it! (I had wondered…)
A display and explanation of how the trails linked with the railroads was interesting too and as soon as I spotted the Texas and Pacific Railroad up there, I had to wait until the little animation showed the train passing through Marshall. Well, you understand why, don’t you?
Enough already, then, now we’d done with the Cattle Ranchers story. We could have joined a crowd to see a presentation in the Planetarium next door but we decided against that and made our way back to the car.
But having solved the mystery of the barbed wire motif on our hotel room plate, yet another puzzle presented itself. Just what do you think this sign means?
Our final stop for the day was a haven of peace, cool and culture.
A fantastic new gallery with space and natural light in abundance, we took a look around the Renzo Piano Pavilion before crossing the road over to the Kahn building, where there was a wonderful collection of European art.
I particularly liked the Chinese scroll from the 14th century, completed having returned home from a visit.
I guess it was the artist’s version of my road trip journal?! Nothing new under the sun, eh?
It was a pleasing way to finish our day out and feeling rather weary in the heat of the late afternoon, we headed back to the Stockyards and our hotel.
Our room was just as we’d left it this morning, though: no clean towels or any housekeeping action whatsoever. So, whilst someone dealt with all of that, my hero and I stepped outside to watch the 4pm show on the street outside. A crowd was already waiting, enjoying the fine, cool mist from a few fans along the street.
Instructions were given – no sitting down; even children should be standing, and please be careful…
Robert, the Longhorn photographer stood waiting for business in the hope that someone might come along and climb aboard: my WI friend Edna had already told me that she had done exactly that! Go Edna!!
At 4pm on the dot, here they came: the Stockyard herd of Longhorn cattle.
And sure enough, just to tie up the story nicely, they were led by a cowgirl!
Wasn’t that neat?