[dropcap]A[/dropcap]ny native of Fort Worth will tell you that the city is where the West begins. Strolling through the Stockyards section of town offers a ride back to memories of cowhands and cattle drives up the Chisholm Trail. It’s where a small fort was built to fend off Indians, where fortunes were made and lost, and where many riders left on their last trip heading to Kansas with the cattle herds. It’s Hell’s Half Acre, and it contained as many bordellos, gambling halls, and saloons that could fit on that patch of land.
Today, the Fort Worth Stockyards look almost identical to the way they did during the heyday of the cattle drives. Hotels, restaurants, and shops still share the same streets, the same old wood frames, and possibly some of those same old trail hands and outlaws that once walked down Exchange Avenue.
When the old steam locomotive, the Tarantula Train, pulls into town on its run, not everyone who steps off has paid for a current ticket—some are phantoms from a bygone era.
Ghost stories are plentiful in the Stockyards. It was regularly home to outlaws and gunfights. From the General Store to Miss Molly’s Hotel, one walk down Exchange Avenue might have you wondering if the cowboy next to you is an actor or an actual ghost from the past.
Miss Molly’s Hotel, a former bordello, is still maintained the way it was when it was first visited by cowhands making a last visit to see the ladies before they hit the trail. At least two rooms and the kitchen are reputedly haunted, with a visiting reporter once waking up in the middle of the night to find a former blond employee from the hotel’s glory days sitting on his bed.
The Stockyard’s hotel has recorded at least two ghosts sighted by the staff. It had been the hotel of choice for Bonnie and Clyde, who spent a night in room 305. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid also favored the Stockyards for a resting place, along with other members of the Hole in the Wall Gang.
Walk into any store or restaurant and one of the old-timers will have a ghost story to tell. After all, with Billy Bob’s—the world’s largest Honky Tonk—in town, maybe some of the old cowpokes couldn’t bear to head out before one more round.
Written by — Henry Bailey Independent Investigator, Conjecture.com
THE FORT WORTH STOCKYARDS
121 EAST EXCHANGE AVENUE
FORT WORTH, TEXAS 76106
TEL: 1 (817) 626-7921
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