Cattle grazing in a pasture is a common site in Texas. We produce more beef than any other state. Millions of acres are used for raising cattle, and billions of dollars worth of cattle are sold each year.
The Cattle Raisers Museum features exhibits about ranching and western life in Texas. According to the museum’s website:
The Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Foundation’s mission is to preserve, promote and protect the rich heritage of ranch life and advance the future of the livestock industry in the Southwest for present and future generations.
From barbed wire fencing to cattle rustling, every facet of the cattle industry is explained in great detail. There are displays of ranching gear like saddles, spurs, and cowboy hats. Other exhibits include tributes to ranchers, cowboys, and lawmen. There are also art exhibitions that depict western life and rotate throughout the year. Be sure not to miss the life-like set of Texas Longhorns in the center gallery.
The Cattle Raisers Museum is located in the Cultural District of Fort Worth. The museum was once located in downtown Fort Worth. But in 2009, it moved into the second floor of the newly renovated Fort Worth Museum of Science and History.
Displays on two large walls tell the history of the cattle raising in Texas. The timeline starts off with how cowboys evolved in the 1800s and ends with how technology has changed modern day ranching.
During most of the nineteenth century, cowboys and their herds were under a constant threat of Indian attacks.
Encased in glass is a decorative Indian headdress made of leather, beads, and eagle feathers. The headdress was worn by Quanah Parker, a famous Comanche chief. Chief Parker led a band of Comanche warriors and had many skirmishes with the Texas Rangers and U.S. Army.
The Texas Longhorns
The central area of the museum contains a set of Texas Longhorns around a waist-high corral. These are very life-like and appear to be created by a taxidermist. Close by are displays about the importance of managing livestock in regards to the land and wildlife in the area.
Barbed Wire Exhibit
In the early days of ranching, dozens of types of barbed wire were introduced in Texas. Some worked better that others and deficient designs were eventually phased out. Over 70 samples of barbed wire designs are on display inside the Barbed Wire Exhibit. Many of the strands are over 100 years old.
But why was barbed wire even needed? In the late nineteenth century, the cattle industry spread across Texas at a rapid pace. Ranchers eventually needed to fence off their property to control the movement of their livestock. At the same time, they also needed to protect their land from other encroaching ranchers.
Fences had normally been built using wood or rocks, and these resources were scarce and not practical on the Texas plains. To solve the problem, barbed wire was invented in the late 1800s as a means to fence in livestock. Over time, the original patents for barbed wire were modified and improved.
Custom Spurs Exhibit
The museum features a huge collection of decorative spurs. If you’re not familiar with spurs, they are worn on the feet of cowboys when tending to cattle on horseback.
Custom designed spurs often include the brand or the name of the cowboy or cowgirl. The spur above features the brand of the Four Sixes Ranch, a historic cattle ranch based near Guthrie, Texas. The Four Sixes spans over 350,000 acres (that’s not a typo).
Windmills in Texas
Barbed wire fencing allowed ranchers to control their cattle, but this led to another problem. Ranchers began fencing off water sources, making them unavailable to other ranchers.
Ranchers were forced to drill water wells on their property. After a well was dug, the water was pumped to the surface using a windmill. Hundreds of windmills were built during the late 1800s, some over 100 feet tall. A smaller scale version of a windmill sits inside the museum.
Branding is a way to prove ownership of cattle. The display above shows cattle brands from South Texas; Some of these brands were registered in the late 1800s.
For over 170 years, Texas has required brands to be registered through the local county clerk’s office. There are no official rules on what a brand should look like. Ranchers usually keep the design simple, so it’s easy to identify and apply to cattle.
Throughout the year, the museum is home to western art exhibitions. Some exhibitions focus on a particular artist. Other exhibitions cover a particular figure or time frame in Texas ranching history.
Tributes to Cowboys and Cowgirls
Cowboy hats of men and women line the walls of the Don C. King Legacy Room. These are notable figures who helped shape the cattle industry in Texas. There’s also a cabinet with pull-out drawers containing photos, newspaper articles, and other artifacts of these men and women.
Saddles from well-known saddlemakers are displayed in the central gallery and other parts of the museum. The saddle pictured here was created by Frank A. Meanea sometime during the 1880s.
Meanea was a well-known saddlemaker admired for his designs and the quality of his products. Some of his customers included Buffalo Bill and artist Charles M. Russell.
Digital Talking Cows
Before you exit the museum, you’ll be greeted by a row of hysterical digital talking cows. Each cow has a message, thanking you for stopping by the Cattle Raisers Museum.
It’s fun to watch the cows move their head and say different things. It can also be educational; Each frame has a label, so you can learn what breed of cow is featured in each digital painting.
|Address:||1600 Gendy St|
Fort Worth, TX 76107