Friday, October 17, 2014

Totally Texas -- The great Dallas cattle drive

Pioneer Plaza

South Griffin & Young Streets, Dallas


It’s one of the most visited public places in Dallas, within walking distance of that more ominous tourist attraction, Dealey Plaza, site of President Kennedy’s assassination. It’s the series of bronze sculptures in downtown’s Pioneer Plaza memorializing the Texas legend of the cattle drive.

For something so short-lived, the herds of cattle that moved from Texas to the railheads of the Midwest in the late nineteenth century have inspired an amazing amount of art. And none of that art is as outsized as the six-foot tall longhorned steers and their attendant cowboys designed by Texas artist Robert Summers twenty years ago to fill a vacant space near the Convention Center.

Sited on an artificial bluff overlooking downtown, the herd meanders along a cliff edge and through a stream. Their hoof prints disappear as they prepare to cross town toward another incident turned legend at Dealey Plaza.

Unlike the assassination site, the herd is a more light-hearted place because the funny thing is, there probably never were any cattle drives through Dallas. (Some people insist there was a Shawnee Trail through Dallas, which probably petered out in the late 1860’s.) Whether they commemorate history or only myth, the fun thing is, everybody loves the goofy, ungainly critters anyway.

Children feel compelled to climb on them, or clown with them, like the pair of little boys who posed for a Dallas version of the running of the bulls that illustrates this post.

Pioneer Plaza incorporates a number of things often sadly lacking in Dallas parks¾ water, shade, and resting places. It boasts a limited number of free parking spaces, with metered parking on the other side of Young Street. It’s also within easy walking distance of the Convention Center and Union Station DART stops and the free D-Link routes through downtown. Entry to the plaza is free, open twenty-four hours daily, all year round.

For more information about the cattle drive sculptures and other nearby sights in downtown Dallas, “like” Dallas Pioneer Plaza Cattle Drive on Facebook.

(Next Friday, countdown to a family-friendly Halloween)

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