Hardwired

Texas History

Panther City

During my research on Fort Worth’s history, I discovered that in the 1870s, this rough-and-tumble frontier town had won the moniker of Hell’s Half Acre. What I didn’t know was that Fort Worth was also called Panther City. It turns out that many locals had either forgotten or never even knew how Fort Worth came to be known by this nickname. I had a hard time believing that panthers once stalked the bottoms of the Trinity River, so I dug deeper. 

I did know about the long-standing rivalry between Fort Worth and their neighbor to the east—Dallas— having read quite a bit about the historical spats that surrounded the location and building of the DFW International Airport. In fact, their rivalry goes back decades, beginning with competition for rail lines.

In 1875, the Dallas Daily Herald published a column about an alleged scandal in “our suburban village of Fort Worth.” The satirical article, written by a lawyer named Robert Cowart, “who didn’t have too good of a feeling about Fort Worth,” commented that Fort Worth was such a sleepy city that nobody noticed a huge, dangerous panther napping in the middle of downtown.

The insult from Cowart, a recent transplant from Fort Worth to Dallas backfired. Instead of triggering a negative response, the reaction from Fort Worth residents was extremely positive. The town—long known for its rodeos, barbecue, and honky-tonks—embraced their new icon—the panther—as a symbol of hope and strength. 

Today, the majestic cat’s presence is everywhere within the city limits. There’s Panther Island Pavilion, Panther Island Brewing Company, and the ambitious Panther Island/Central City Flood Project, as well as statues of the panther quietly sleeping among the hustle and bustle of downtown Fort Worth. 

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Texas Co-op Power

Photo credit: Nicolas Viard, article by W. F. Strong: https://texascooppower.com/how-texas-became-a-desert/

Years ago, while sorting through my mail, I tossed a magazine titled Texas Co-op Power into the recycle bin at the post office as I had done for ages.  I was certain the magazine was no more than an update on how the electric utility coop was functioning financially and the demographics of its customers – neither of which held any particular interest for me. Big mistake!

One day the magazine ended up in my take-home pile. I was about to set it aside when an article title on the cover caught my eye: “In The Care of Canines. How rescue dogs are learning to help people.” After I read it, I thought, “Wow! Have I ever been missing out.” 

This article prompted me to read the magazine from cover to cover. Yes, there were updates on how our power company was performing, but there was so much more. The articles were rich in Texas history, food, travel, events taking place around the state. Every month I found something of interest, and all of the material was educational. One such example is “Joined by a Fence” by W. F. Strong (https://texascooppower.com/joined-by-a-fence/)  

Never again has that magazine been automatically discarded.

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