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Dallas and Fort Worth

The City of Dallas and Fort Worth are now so close to each other than they merge into each other, with Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport (DFW), one of the biggest airports in the USA being also roughly midway between the two cities. A number of freeways and flyovers connect the two cities to each other, and traffic can be pretty constant around the clock.

While the TV Show "Dallas" created the image of a "Big 'ol Texan town", Dallas is also identified with President John F. Kennedy being shot by Lee Harvey Oswald in 1963, with LBJ ( Lyndon B. Johnson) a Texan and Vice President at the time, taking his place as the new President. There is a Museum in Dallas called the Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza, 411 Elm Street. See www.jfk.org The sixth floor is significant as this is the building and floor that is where Lee Harvey Oswald was positioned as a sniper.

There is also the John F. Kennedy Memorial Plaza at 646 Main Street, and other places named in honor of the President both here in Dallas and also in Fort Worth, where President Kennedy made his last speech, before heading to Dallas.

As a city, Dallas began as a frontier Trading Post in 1841 at a point where there was a crossing over the Trinity River that flows through Dallas while Fort Worth began as an Army Fort also built next to the Trinity River on the frontier in 1849, with cattle ranching on the Trinity floodplain becoming the main industry.

The area was Comanche Territory and in the early days, conflicts between the settlers and Comanche warriors led to some eight US Army forts being built along the frontier, with the Army given the responsibility of protecting the settlers from Comanche attack.

Texan Longhorn cattle had developed as a tough breed of cattle since escaping from the early Spanish missions in the 1500's, breeding in the wild, but by the early 1860's, new settlers saw the potential to sell the cattle back to markets in the East where the price of meat was high. To get the cattle to market meant getting them to a railhead for the journey east, and that meant getting them to Kansas. At about the end of the Civil War, around 1866 Texan Longhorns were rounded up by Texan "cowboys", and herded on trails northwards from Texas to Kansas, in what became known as the "Great Cattle Drives".

It is thought that between 1866 and 1890 hundreds of thousands (some say Millions) of Longhorns were driven from Texas to railheads in Abilene, Baxter Springs and other Kansas towns to then take a journey to the Eastern States.

The distance today from Dallas to Abilene Kansas on the I-35 Highway is 544 miles, so on a Cattle Drive it would have been at least 600 miles distance from Dallas, let alone from other places further south in Texas. Fort Worth was one of the stopover points on the way north, and became known for a period of time as "Cowtown".

The Cattle Drives became legendary, and in the process it created great stories of the American Western Frontier – with Apaches, Comanche, Shawnee and other braves, cowboys, rustlers, saloons, sheriffs, card-sharks, gunslingers, gun fights, shootouts, tenderfoots, whiskey, wagon trails, ranchers, trail blazers, cattlemen creating a new American language with characters, stories, songs and movies all building the image of Texas and also the Wild West.

While not the end of the Cowboy era, the arrival of the Railroad in Fort Worth in 1876,meant that the great cattle drives would slowly end, as Railroads began to create a new era of development.

Dallas and Fort Worth were both born in the era of the 'wild west', and while both cities have developed just as Texas has with the discovery of oil and then development of a diverse industry base with engineering, banking, healthcare, education, sport, conventions, electronics, computers, medical science and technology, both cities still have their pride and identity closely attuned to their western culture, Fort Worth even having the bi-line as "The City of Cowboys and Culture".

Happy Travelling!

I hope you have a great time in Dallas and Fort Worth.

Geoff Stuart

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