Monday, August 15, 2016

Cowtown Coliseum

If you live in North Texas and have guests from out of state who might not necessarily want the "Authentic Texas" experience but perhaps the "Touristy Texas" experience then odds are that you will take them out to the Fort Worth Stockyards.  Once there, your guests will be surrounded by all the trappings of Texas: cowboys, horses, cattle and rodeos!  And when it comes to rodeo, the number 1 spot is Cowtown Coliseum:

Not only does the Coliseum continue to host world class rodeos but it was also the site of the world's first indoor rodeo in 1918.  Over the years, the event space has hosted famous faces ranging from Theodore Roosevelt to Elvis Presley.  The historical marker out front has the historical rundown:

The marker reads:

     "Until 1908, The Annual Fort Worth Fat Stock Show was held in a variety of locations. As interest increased in the event and its educational and promotional values were realized, livestock exhibitors sought a permanent home for the show. The coliseum was constructed in 1907-08 to provide such an exhibition hall. Construction costs were borne by the Swift and Armour Packing Companies, and by the Fort Worth Stock Yards Company, which owned the property. The stock show was held here annually for 34 years. 
     This site has been within three separate cities: North Fort Worth until 1909; Niles City, 1911-23; and in Fort Worth since 1923. It is the birthplace of the indoor rodeo, and the first live radio broadcast of a rodeo was transmitted here on WBAP Radio in 1923. 
     The Coliseum also has served as a place for cultural, educational, religious, social, and civic events. In 1911, former President Theodore Roosevelt spoke here. Numerous Texas Governors, performing artists, grand operas, entertainers and evangelists have appeared here. The great Italian tenor, Enrico Caruso, performed here in 1920. 
     In 1936, the Stock Yards Company sold the coliseum to the City of Fort Worth. Historically it has been an important part of the city and the livestock industry."

Also outside the Coliseum is a monument to a cowboy who pioneered one of the most difficult rodeo events:

Bill Pickett was a lifetime cowboy and inventor of the technique of "bulldogging" which is essentially the act of jumping off a moving horse on to a moving steer and wrestling it to the ground with your bare hands.  So, yeah, he had guts.

Another little piece of history can be found near the entrance:

This Spanish canon was found in a river in San Antonio near the Alamo and now sits right outside the Coliseum warning visitors that this is a place where explosive things happen.

FUN FACT:  The Coliseum stood in for a Mexican Hotel in the (sadly short lived) TNT continuation of the legendary CBS soap opera "Dallas".  And as an added bit of melancholy trivia, it played the part of the hotel where J.R. Ewing was murdered (shortly after the real life death of  Larry Hagman):