Back in the 19th Century, the Texas legislature passed
a law stating that an effort should be made to place the county seat
of each county to within five miles of the geographic center of the
county. Well, evidently the people of Weatherford took this as a challenge.
Not only is their town in the center of their county but their courthouse
is built over the exact center.
I find this very impressive, but during our visit not one person called
this to our attention. But just because they don't brag about it doesn't
mean they aren't proud. They know! Like a lot of other things in Weatherford,
it's understated. Like when they mention "elegance unexpected
on the edge of the Texas frontier". An understatement.
Weatherford’s Restored Santa Fe Depot
Photo Courtesy Lou Ann Herda, 2002
Chamber of Commerce and Visitors' Center is
located in the restored Santa Fe Depot two blocks east of the
at: 401 Fort Worth Street, 817-596-3801
Contact them for an impressive collection of brochures, both informative
and entertaining. There's one for the historic driving tour
featuring 59 historic buildings, another for the cemetery tour,
one for events and attractions, one each for lodging and dining and
even one provided by the Antique Dealers Association directing you
to their members.
County Courthouse in Weatherford
TE photo, 1998
County Courthouse in Weatherford
Built in 1885 and designed by
Dodson and Dudley, the courthouse has recently been beautifully
restored. And did I mention it's exactly in the center of the county?
You may see a few of the bumper stickers from last year which say,
"Welcome to Weatherford, please don't drive into our beautifully
Unique also is its absence of a lawn. Old timers will tell you it
was removed so they could expand the cemetery and others swear it
is a clever way to reduce the population of lawyers. Whatever the
reason, one can drive close enough to eavesdrop on the more interesting
There is more understated elegance in the recently reopened Chandor
Gardens. Four acres inside the city at 710 West Simmons. Open Mid-March
through Mid-November, they wisely close during August. Group tours
are by reservation only. Call 817-613-1700. Tickets are also available
at the Chamber of Commerce.
Since Weatherford was near the Butterfield Stage Line and had its
own line to Fort Griffin, it's appropriate that the only existing
stagecoach factory (they will make an occasional chariot) should
be here. Mr. Brown the owner and craftsman recently filled an order
of five for a movie studio and one of his models is featured in
the movie Maverick. Charles Goodnight is credited with inventing
the chuckwagon for his trail drives and Mr. Brown has built these
too, one of which appears in the annual Parker County Frontier
Days Celebration Livestock Show and Rodeo the last full week
enthusiasts, Weatherford features First Monday Trade Days
taking place Friday, Saturday, preceding the first Monday of each
Peach Festival attracts over 25,000 people annually. It takes
place the second Saturday in July on the square around the courthouse.
Definitely a family affair.
Frontier Days Celebration Livestock Show and Rodeo draws crowds
Wednesday through Saturday last full week in June.
Hotels > Book
History - It's
hard to get away from it in Weatherford. After putting five cents
in the meter for one hour of parking, we walked into the Downtown
Café and there it was on the walls – history! Sepia photographs
of Weatherford's past. Peaches as big as grapefruit! Watermelons as
big as Yugos!
Courthouses in the geographic center of the county! Even some of the customers
looked historic. The food was a little slow in coming, so we went
next door where I had seen a rack of old postcards through the window.
Well, it wasn't an antique store but a Butane company, and proceeds
from the postcard sales go to the Abandoned Cemetery Association.
There are over forty abandoned cemeteries in Parker
On the west wall are about twenty framed photographs of the Courthouse.
Big ones, little ones, courthouse with snow, courthouse without snow,
courthouse with circled wagons, courthouse circled by Model T's. An
aerial view too. I think the only missing view was a subterranean
one of the foundation.
On the east wall more history. The only photograph extant of Boze
Ikard, the character portrayed by Danny Glover in the movie
Lonesome Dove. This photo was only recently discovered (after
the book was written and the movie made). Both Ikard and Oliver
Loving are buried in Weatherford's Greenwood Cemetery.
By the way, if you have a beef with Larry McMurtry about the
story you might want to drive up to Archer
City about 97 miles northwest and discuss it with him. Archer
City has a nice 1892
Sandstone Courthouse, but it's a few miles off-center. Since Mr.
McMurtry seems intent on filling every building in Archer City with
books, it might be a good idea to visit soon, before he gets to the
Mineral Wells and Northwest Railway
You may want to take advantage of Weatherford's bargain parking meters
and walk to Mineral Wells.
Well, it's possible. For those of you not familiar with Rails to
Trails, it's a program to convert abandoned or unused rail lines
to bike, equestrian and/or hiking trails. An excellent way to travel
leisurely cross-country without encroaching on private property. Weatherford
and Mineral Wells are connected by the roadbed of the old Weatherford
Mineral Wells and Northwest Railway, once known as the Water,
More Water and No Whiskey Railroad. It's 22 miles to downtown Mineral
Wells, with Comfort Stations conveniently spaced along the way.