THE STOCKYARDSRUINS

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No State of Texas Historical Marker explains these ruins. Some say they are the remains of a battle of the War of Northern Aggression. But that can't be the case as no such battle took place in Fort Worth. Some say the Stockyard Ruins look like the result of a major earthquake. But Texas doesn't have earthquakes. A tourist was heard to ask if the Stockyard Ruins were caused by that tornado from a couple years ago. No, the ruins from that disaster are mostly gone. Others say the Stockyard Ruins look like Berlin at the end of World War II.

That may be true. Semi-credible sources say the Stockyard Ruins are the remains of the Swift-Armor meat packing factory. This seems likely the truth as a stairway with a big S marks our entry to the Stockyard Ruins.

And now rumor has it that the Stockyards Ruins are being used as a prison, housing mostly Panamanian prisoners and a few Americans. The prison is called Sona. We discovered the prison on Thursday, November 1, 2007 after having a nice lunch of chile rellenos at Esperanzas in the Stockyards zone. We had no clue while enjoying lunch that we were about to discover a prison.

Soma Prison concertina wire enclosure click a thumbnail to view a photo

Outside Sona Prison in the Stockyard Ruins, formerly the Swift Armor Meatpacking Plant. We are looking at the main prison here with the concertina wire enclosure which prisoners can walk into to speak to visitors.

Go to our Blog to read about BIG plans for the Stockyard Ruins in
Will The Heritage Conceptual Plan Improve Or Destroy The Fort Worth Stockyards?
Prison Break Soma Prison guard tower The main guard tower by the visitor's entry station. There was only one guard on duty when we took these photos of the "prison". And he appeared to be sleeping in a late model American made vehicle.
Prison Break prison armored vehicle "OFFICINA DE VISITA" says the sign on the visitor's entrance building. The chain link fence has a sign saying "CORRIENTE ELECTRICA" with an English version below it saying "ELECTRIC CURRENT".
Water had to be pumped in from the Stockyards via a temporary pipeline that crosses the road that runs on the west side of the prison. The temporary pipeline was not our first clue that something was going on in the Stockyard Ruins. Before the pipeline we saw a tower that we'd not seen before, a lookout type tower that we later realized was a guard tower. The water must be needed for the palm trees you see in this photo. The prison must have wanted palm trees to make the Panamanian prisoners feel more at home.

A few weeks ago we read in a Fort Worth newspaper, frequently noted for its bad coverage of local news, that the Fox TV Show, Prison Break, was filming its Panama prison scenes at an abandoned meat packing plant in the Dallas area. Well, the Fort Worth Stockyards is in the Dallas area, but usually the Fort Worth media seems to prefer not to identify Fort Worth news through a Dallas filter. This Dallas area prison story was an exception to the rule.
Big S for Swift Armor still visible  

A cement stairway with a big 'S' still clearly visible, as if someone regularly freshly paints the old emblem. Long ago, cattle was brought to the Stockyards and processed at this Swift-Armor plant. It is not known if hot dogs were made here. Or corn dogs.

This is not damage from World War II

The classic Stockyard Ruin. It is not known what brought these buildings to this sad state of total ruin. Or why they are allowed to remain this way, so close to Fort Worth's most famous tourist attraction. Perhaps it is because the Stockyard Ruins have become an attraction in their own right. Does any other major city have such a monument to its past?

Old Spaghetti Warehouse Between the ruin on the left and the ruin on the right we see the most recent ruin in the Stockyards, the now closed Spaghetti Warehouse, a longtime Stockyards restaurant which was housed in the old Swift-Armor offices.

Update: The old Spaghetti Warehouse has now been renovated into offices for one of the many gas drilling companies poking holes in Fort Worth.

Looks like an old Parking Garage This Stockyard Ruin would appear to be a bit dangerous.

This part of the Stockyard Ruins doesn't look all that different from still viable industrial areas of Fort Worth.

Beautiful Ruins

The Stockyard Ruins cover what appears to be a large amount of land, going unused, with big open spaces between the ruined buildings. All this unused land would seem to be a great place to move the Fort Worth Stock Show, out of its current location in the oddly named 'Cultural District' and into Fort Worth's real Cultural District, where it belongs, and where it used to be.

Stockyard Ruins Staircase

It's time to leave the Stockyard Ruins, before we get caught trespassing, exiting down the stairs we entered on.

We don't know if the Feedback we got yesterday as to what caused the Stockyards Ruins is factual or not. Maybe it is, maybe it isn't. But below is what our Feedbacker told us....

The stockyards ruins were victims of arson fires, 2, in 1971 and 1973. The amount of animal fat in the buildings left the fires unable to be extinguished. They just let it burn out. I was long interested in how the ruins got in the state it's been for decades. I had to do plenty of digging to get that info, and I couldn't tell you where I finally found it. It was not easy.

CM Waring

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