Cattle Raisers

About the Museum

The Cattle Raisers Museum is located on the second floor of the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History.

The Cattle Raisers Museum is dedicated to preserving and celebrating the vital history and science of the cattle industry. The experience tells the story of the cattle industry from its origins among the West’s early Spanish settlers, through the heyday of the legendary drovers, all the way to today’s modern range technology. The exhibits show the important role Texas and Southwestern cattle raisers play in protecting natural resources as frontline stewards of land, livestock, and wildlife.

Good Grass for Cattle:
The Beginning of Texas Ranching, 1690-1890

Texas ranching traces its roots to 1690 when Spain introduced cattle to Texas. Cowboys soon developed tools and techniques that were adapted for working cattle. This gallery traces the development of the Texas cattle industry beginning with the “vaquero” ranchers, the first trail drives of the 1850s and the importance of cattle to Texas during and after the Civil War.

With the era of trail drives, beef was introduced to new markets across the country. As the cattle industry grew into a booming business, expansive ranches emerged and the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association was formed to protect them.

Rails, Roads, Rodeos, and Rustlers:
Ranchers Enter the Modern Age, 1890-1950

With the invention of barbed wire, rangelands were enclosed, the cattle drives ended and a new way of moving cattle to emerging markets was introduced. Railroads quickly transformed cities like Fort Worth into bustling cattle markets and meatpacking centers, helping to boost prices for Southwestern cattle. By the late 1890s, stock shows and rodeos were introduced to help promote sales and establish a venue for cattle raisers to better understand the value of breeding and exhibiting stock to potential buyers. Additionally, cattle theft became a greater issue, so branding was introduced as a way to identify cattle to a ranch, and brand inspectors looked out for rustlers. Finally, ranching modernized with the introduction of tools, trailers and large trucks to haul cattle to distant places.

The Vision Trail:
Ranchers Embrace Technology, 1950-Present

Innovation and technology have defined the modern era of the beef industry. Technology helped cattle raisers fight diseases such as the screwworm and provided new tools to help ranchers be stewards of the land and improve the genetics of livestock. Today, cattle raisers take full advantage of digital communications to make quicker and more efficient decisions about their herds and rangelands. As the popularity of livestock shows has grown, so also have organizations including FFA and 4-H. Consumers can feel good about the nutritional value of lean beef produced by today’s ranchers and benefit from the hundreds of edible, non-edible, and medicinal byproducts of cattle. Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association remains a strong advocate representing more than 18,000 ranching families and continues to work to stop cattle rustling through its law enforcement staff.

The Gathering Place

The central gallery is where visitors can see five majestic longhorns in a corral. You will learn more about ranching families in Texas and the Southwest, the importance of stewardship of land, livestock, water and wildlife, and about population as compared with land. The gallery features saddles dated from the 1850s to the 1920s from the magnificent Ken Spain Saddle collection. In this area, the Museum also displays a range of artwork highlighting the life, work and land of Texas and Southwestern cattle raisers.

Hall of Great Cattle

Sure to be one of the Museums most talked about and enjoyed experiences, the Hall of Great Cattle features “portraits” often breeds beautifully painted and displayed in baroque frames. Adding to the fun, each portrait is animated which gives the visitor a special surprise as they move and talk!

Thundering Herd Multimedia Experience

The 90-seat Noble Planetarium invites you to sit and watch a brief history of the diversity of cattle raisers. See and hear from cowboys huddled around campfires, vaqueros recounting the first livestock to arrive from Spain into the New World and Native Americans who hunted bison.

Thundering Herd showtimes in the Noble Planetarium may vary. Please check the updated schedules daily.

Don C. King Legacy Headquarters

The Don C. King Legacy Headquarters gallery pays tribute to great cattle raisers, both past and present. Artifacts of these individuals are housed in pull-out drawers in specially-designed cherry wood cabinets.

Jane and John Justin Gallery

The Jane and John Justin Gallery will feature Hard Twist: Western Ranch Women by Barbara Van Cleve through September 30, 2019. Hard Twist documents the lives of ranch women from the northern Rockies to the Mexican border. The work has been described as a celebration of women of the range along with their ranches and the breathtaking landscapes in which they live. The photographs evoke the women’s physical ability, commitment to family, hard work, emotional maturity, and always a sense of humor.

Learn more about the Cattle Raisers Museum here.

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