FORT WORTH, Texas – The Fort Worth Stockyards are synonymous with longhorn steers. Twice a day these big ol’ cattle are lead down exchange avenue as sort of a spectacle as to what business was like here in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s.
But for a more historical look at the story of the stockyards, moseying into the old Livestock Exchange Building will continue your cattle drive through time.
Teresa Burleson is the director of the stockyards museum and she’s got the credentials to tell this story.
“This building was actually dubbed the Wall Street of the West because so much money passed through here,” Teresa said after informing us that she is a proud fifth generation Texan who loves her job.
“I love history,” Teresa said. “I love our heritage. And I love the colorful people that make up our history.”
Since 1989 the North Fort Worth History Society has been the point rider for this small museum that tells the story of how different the stockyards used to be.
“When people see that picture [of the stockyards] they suddenly become aware of how huge these stockyards were,” Teresa said. “I mean they were the third largest in the nation. Chicago was first, Omaha was second, Fort Worth was third.”
While this rich history is big draw, there are a few other oddities that you might not expect to find here.
“We have artifacts from what you would find in a home in the early 1900s. Then we have things that are a little bazar like the bad luck wedding dress and the light bulb that’s been burning 108 years,” Teresa informed us.
With such unique historical artifacts in a historical building in Fort Worth, you might be wondering,were does one start? But let’s go ahead and get the bad luck out of the way.
“The bad luck wedding dress has nothing to do whatsoever with the stockyards, but the lady that inherited it did not want it in her house and so she brought it to us,” Teresa said. “. Out of the four people that had the bad luck, three of them lost their husbands and one lady become sick. “We have it under the Plexiglas to keep the bad mojo in there.”
Next Teresa shed some light on the lightbulb that’s been glowing for 108 years.
“This is the famous Palace Theatre light bulb, and you know it has its own Facebook page, too,” Teresa said. “And we do have it on a dimmer. It could be brighter. It’s going to last forever.”
So what’s the key to making a light bulb last 108 years?
“The filament is made from tungsten, and when it was made there was a vacuum that sucked all the moisture out of it, and that’s one of the reasons it’s lasted so long,” Teresa explained.
This bulb has been burning bright since 1908 when a stagehand screwed it into a socket at the old Brayers Opera House, later known as the Palace Theater. Considering this is the second longest running light bulb in the world, don’t expect to get a hand on it.
So don’t be turned off by the idea of seeing this old light bulb because it’s actually quit illuminating and well worth a stop on The Texas Bucket List.