Monday, June 30, 2014

Top June Posts

Morton Grove and On the Road to Bathgate dominated the June top ten list on Along the Gradyent. Our top June post, On the Road to Bathgate Act 1: Fargo the Movie, was pushed forward by the airing of Fargo, the miniseries on the FX network, to almost universal acclaim. And it pushed our post's page views to near record highs.
Audiences were justifiably suspicious of Fargo before its premiere. “A TV show that’s … what, based on the Coen Brothers movie?” one might have asked. “A sequel? A spinoff? This is odd. It’s odd, right? It’s odd.”
But, with season one in the books, it’s fair to conclude that the odd bet paid off. Equal parts murder-mystery, deconstruction of the anti-hero genre that has dominated the new golden age of television, and loving, almost fanboy-ish Coen Brothers tribute, Fargo’s success proves that there’s no network on basic cable more interesting than FX.
Newsday raves,
"Fargo" has been something of a sensation for FX -- loving critical response, some buzz and decent if not outrageous good fortune in the Nielsen department. Billy Bob Thornton will almost certainly get -- or at the very least deserves -- a best supporting Emmy nod next month for hitman Lorne Malvo, and I'd be surprised if Allison Tolman doesn't get something for her Molly Solverson, the deputy with heart and brains.
It is said that "Fargo is a smart show. Not pleasant, not kind, but smart. Ruthless."

Viewed through a Minnesotan eyes, the miniseries was seen thus.
For the past 10 weeks, the makers of “Fargo” have treated us to great television. I started reviewing these episodes because complaining about the depiction of Minnesotans in the Coen Brothers original movie “Fargo” has been a local cottage industry since I was a teenager. I thought there was some kind of weird niche I could fill, and the fact that my commentary was featured on a Grantland piece this morning shows I must have guessed right. What we got from “Fargo,” though, was more than I expected. Far from being just a regional oddity, “Fargo” touched a much deeper chord. 
 Pictured: Allison Tolman as Molly and Shawn Doyle as Vern.
Producer/writer Noah Hawley has delivered the best series of the year, a 10-episode sprint that defies old TV definitions of “movie,” “series,” or “mini-series.” It’s just some gosh darn good art, you know. I’ve got plenty of northern Minnesota readers checking in on this show, but I have some from England, Sweden and Texas, too. Why? Because this is a show about human nature, not just one particular place. What 14 hours of action allowed that the movie didn’t, was for “Fargo” to show that it’s not about making fun of Minnesotans — it’s about contrasting the structure and decency of a place like this with the chaos and evil that also exist in the world. If my fellow Minnesotans can’t see this, well, folks can believe whatever they want. Ain’t my deal.
Link to your cable or online video account and watch the series here.
Now, let's get down to the nitty gritty and summarize June's top ten. A great big thanks to our awesome readers.

1. The winter Fargo the movie was shot proved to be uncooperative. Early winter snowfalls were followed by thaws; January and February snow cover failed to stick. In search of snowier backdrops, the production moved north, resulting on March 15, 1995 in the following AP story:

Paul Bunyan statue outside Bathgate, ND, March, 1995
BATHGATE, ND (AP) A statue of Paul Bunyan, along with a "Welcome to Brainerd, Home of Paul Bunyan" sign now stands tall on the prairie, along Pembina County Highway 1, four miles west of town.
The 25-foot statue was erected over the weekend for the filming of a police chase scene for the movie, "Fargo.""You should have seen it right after they put it up," said Reinhold Henschel, who owns Reiny's Bar, one of a handful of businesses in the town of 75 people about 10 miles south of the Canadian border.
"It was foggy, and people couldn't see it until they got right up to it. Then, it says, 'Brainerd,' and they thought, 'What the hell?"
How Bathgate got involved in a movie called "Fargo" and with the legend of Paul Bunyan and Brainerd is simply a matter of weather. The film crew needs snow, and Bathgate has snow - at least for a few more days.
"We should have more of this kind of thing around here," said Emil Martineau. "It's something to talk about." You betcha. Hence the post, On the Road to Bathgate Act 1: Fargo the Movie.

2. In early June we published Morton Grove Before the Baby Boom: The Complete Story of The Dells. Just down the street from the home I grew up in in the then bucolic suburb of Morton Grove, Al Capone and his gang ran a prohibition roadhouse, that was the site and source of gangland wars, murders, kidnappings, arson and bombings. Read all about it here. Read all about it now.
3. Our May top Ten Posts retrospective came in a solid third. Ted Turner, Bernard Shaw, Peter Arnett, Susan Rook, John Holliman George Bush, Barack Obama and Jeff Zucker -- we dropped enough names in the lead to our post on NSA snooping (NSA Overreaches are Bush's Fault?) to pick up traffic to burn.

4.  The replacement contractor for Healthcare.Gov has turned out to be outrageously expensive and absurdly behind schedule. Who could have predicted that? Well me. Check it out at Accenture Comes Through For Healthcare.Gov.

Reading Eagle,
October 20, 1966
5.  As a teenage caddie I carried doubles one sultry Monday morning for Chicago Cub pitcher Kenny Holtzman and third base coach Peanuts Lowery. Ron Santo and Glenn Beckert were in the foursome too. The fellow you least heard of was best on the links. Read all about it in Caddying for the Cubs

5. The Tea Party gets behind and elects a smart professor who supports the real economy providing real jobs for real people. The liberal Democrats elect a fat cat Volvo dealer who hawks imported cars to government employees, lawyers, lobbyists and government contractors in Northern Virginia. So goes Long Live the Tea Party, the Tea Party is Dead.

6. I am a baby boomer. I grew up in Morton Grove, Illinois, a suburb due north of Chicago and about five miles in from Lake Michigan. The village is physically much as it was when I left it for good in 1971. Its population has fluctuated between 20 and 30 thousand people over the last 40 years, due mostly to changes in household size. So begins the paen to my home town and perennial favorite, Growing Up in Morton Grove.

The Fourth Estate, January 9, 1915.
7. George S. Foster was a turn of the century (20th century that is) politician in Chicago, a banker, a lawyer and my grand uncle. In On the Road to Bathgate Act 4g: More on George S. Foster we reported on additional material we unearthed (including a link to Texas apropos of June's travels) on his daughter, my aunt Marguerite Foster Huff. We also report on another daughter whose son stepped out of the woodwork in response to our postings. Reporting on my ancestral family is a fascinating and fulfilling enterprise.

9.  Researching my uncle Lyn's background increased my esteem and respect for him immeasurably. Lyndon R. Foster was a rabble rouser, reformer and publisher. At various times he ran for Los Angeles County supervisor, mayor of Los Angeles, Congress and California Lieutenant Governor. His passion for good government almost literally cost him his life. If you have not previously done so, check him out now at On the Road to Bathgate Act 4f: Lyndon R. Foster -- Veteran, Publisher and Politician.
10.  We pointed out in Not Going to Happen Here, that winter temperature extremes on the downside far exceeded anything that had, could or would happen during the summer on the upside. Global warming -- phooey.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Home in Huntsville

Last night we pulled into Huntsville, Texas for a visit -- yes Texas, that is, not Alabama. We are located off of I-45, about 70 miles north of Houston and 160 miles south of Dallas. 

"Old Sparky" Texas Prison Museum.
Huntsville is most famous, or infamous I might say, as the home of the Huntsville Unit, formally known the Texas State Penitentiary at Huntsville, warden James Jones, which houses the most active execution chamber in the United States of America. The town is also home to the Texas State Prison Museum, featuring "Old Sparky," the electric chair used to execute 361 prisoners from 1924 to 1964. The prison houses approximately 1,700 inmates and, as Huntsville's second largest employer, has 450 workers on its payroll. 

The largest employer in Huntsville is Sam Houston State University. Serving 18,000 students, "Sam" as it is locally known, offers "over 80 bachelor's degree programs, more than 50 master’s degree programs, and six doctoral programs, including nationally-recognized programs in Business, Fine Arts, Education, Mathematics and Criminal Justice." We have a Sam MFA degree represented in our household.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

The Doomsday Plane is Here

Down in Texas, just south of Austin, we've seen no chemtrails. Perhaps they are obscured because the skies are mostly cloudy. Or maybe they are not the pervasive presence in Texas that they are in Montana. 

But rooting around we found there is evidence of another nearby mysterious aerial threat from the US government  -- the doomsday plane. 
Infowars confirmed that an ominous aircraft, which scared onlookers as it barely flew above the spires of downtown Austin, Texas, is a Boeing E-6B (based on the 707-320) operating out of Tinker Air Force base in Oklahoma.
Radio host Alex Jones reported seeing the doomsday plane dangerously loiter around downtown before it flew to another part of the Texas capital. 
Tinker Air Force Base’s public affairs spokesperson said that the flight was part of a routine training exercise. When asked about the exact nature of the exercise, she declined to comment. 
The flight is reminiscent of the 2009 Boeing 747 “Photo Op” incident in Manhattan, which Mayor Michael Bloomberg called ill-conceived and a waste of tax money.
That 747 reminded New Yorkers of 9/11. 
KXAN, a local news station, claims that the E-6B was only performing touch-and-go take-offs and landings; however, this statement fails to explain why the four-engined aircraft, with a reported wing span of 148 feet, flew so close to buildings.
The Boeing E-6B serves the U.S. Navy as an airborne communications relay and command post. 
More interestingly, the E-6B is utilized for Operation Looking Glass, the airborne command center of U.S. nuclear forces in the event that primary, ground-base command becomes inoperable. another similar incident occurred in Austin not very long ago. 
Late last year, a low flying, EPA-owned plane skirted through downtown Austin, reportedly recording radiation and chemicals in a government “effort” to “keep us safe.” 
If government officials intended to scare the population with the doomsday air show, they certainly met that goal.
The terror in the sky was on a return trip earlier this year.

The ‘Doomsday Plane’ has returned to Austin, Texas as shown in this newly released video from Infowars. What is this ‘doomsday plane’? Much more on the doomsday plane below video.
Alex Jones argues that this plane was a Boeing E-4B though others believed it was an E-6B. From a July 2013 story where a ‘doomsday plane’ flew over Austin, Alex compared the plane to a doomsday plane flown over New York in 2009 that scared the heck out of New Yorker’s.Jones compared the incident to when the government flew a Boeing 747 over New York City in 2009 as part of a photo-op, evoking memories of 9/11 and sending thousands of people into a “total panic”.
Although it’s likely the flyover was part of some kind of military exercise, which has occurred over Austin before, no explanation was offered by the Air Force.
Jones speculated that the aircraft could have been an E4B ‘doomsday plane’, although other images show the E4B has additional sets of landing gear to those shown on the plane in the video above.
The Boeing E-4 Advanced Airborne Command Post (project name “Nightwatch”) is a modified 747 airborne ark operated by the United States Air Force (USAF).
Its’ technical name is the E-4B .
If ground command centers in the United States fail or are attacked, Nightwatch would be immediately airborne. The doomsday plane remains on permanent high alert, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year and can be launched in minutes.
In the event of a catastrophic, worst-case scenario, Nightwatch, a thoroughly protected doomsday plane and mobile command post, would transport the President, the Secretary of Defense, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and other key personnel quickly out of danger. When the President boards an E-4, its call sign becomes “Air Force One.”
All E-4B aircraft can reach speeds up to 620 miles per hour and can remain in the air for days. In a test flight for endurance, the aircraft remained airborne and fully operational for 35.4 hours.

We will be down to the Alamo today where, ghosts of Davy Crockett, we will be scanning the skies for more. And so it goes.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

More From Texas

In Lone Star state news, we learned that Johnny Football's career options continue to multiply.

Johnny Manziel drives for a (missed) layup
during halftime of a Charlotte Bobcats game
vs. the Atlanta Hawks.

SAN ANTONIO - Former Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel now has two career fallbacks if the NFL does not work out. 
After being drafted earlier this month in the 28th round by the San Diego Padres in the 2014 MLB draft, the Harlem Globetrotters decided to pick Manziel in their eighth annual player draft. 
Manziel was drafted in the first round, 28th overall, by the Cleveland Browns on May 8. 
In a news release, the Globetrotters said "The team searches the four corners of the world to find superb athletes with a flair for entertainment who are also able spread joy and goodwill outside of the athletic arena," the Globetrotters said in a news release about the Aggie alum. 
Sweet Lou Dunbar, the Globetrotters' director of player personnel, said that Manziel "is a fantastic athlete that knows how to be entertaining. 'Johnny Basketball' has a nice ring to it, doesn't it?"
I'm thinking that Johnny is fodder for the Washington Generals, which are still looking for their second victory after all these decades.

Looking south and east, Texas plans on sinking ships.
SAN ANTONIO - Texas Parks and Wildlife Department officials are planning to sink a ship in the Gulf of Mexico near Galveston to create another artificial reef for conservation and research.
The agency is searching for a steel ship, at least 200 feet long, to sink on a proposed 80-acre site about 67 miles off the coast of Galveston in 135 feet of water, according to project summary from the Texas Parks and Wildlife and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
The Texas Clipper being hauled out ot sea for its
final service as an artificial reef in 2007.
The $4 million project is funded through oil and gas company donations, including $1.8 million from the Natural Resource Damage Assessmenet Funds that were awarded as a result of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon spill,
said Chris Ledford, a reef specialist with the agency.
Large steel ships work with interesting or complicated structures on deck are ideal because they provide sturdy surfaces which marine life can attach, he said.
"And they make really cool dive sites," Ledford said. "It's pretty impressive how quickly critters show up."
The project is on schedule to be completed in fall 2015 or spring 2016, said Brooke Shipley-Lozano, cheif scientist for the artificial reef program for the agency.
The TPWD will seek bids from companies within the next few months for a ship to sink and will subsequently strip the ship to bare metal and remove all oil, fuel and electronics.
In 2007, the TPWD sank the 473-foot Texas Clipper, a training vessel at Texas A&M University at Galveston, 12 miles off South Padre Island. The ship hauled troops during World War II.
In Austin, an alternative newspaper columnist offers some interesting and apt spin on the government's monthly job creation reports.


The Hightower Report

What job creation numbers don't tell us


Have you noticed that the powers that be employ an entirely different standard for measuring the health of America's job market than they use for the stock market?
They're currently telling us that, "The job market is improving." What do they mean? Simply that the economy is generating an increase in the number of jobs available for workers. But when they say, "The stock market is improving," they don't mean that the number of stocks available to investors is on the rise. Instead, they're measuring the price, the value of the stocks. And isn't value what really counts in both cases?
As a worker, you don't want to know, not merely that 200,000 new jobs are on the market, but what they're worth – do they pay living wages, do they come with benefits, are they just part-time and temporary, do they include union rights, what are the working conditions, etc.? In other words, are these jobs ... or scams?
So, it's interesting that the recent news of job market "improvement" doesn't mention that of the 10 occupation categories projecting the greatest growth in the next eight years, only one pays a middle-class wage. Four pay barely above poverty level, and five pay beneath it, including fast-food workers, retail sales staff, health aides, and janitors. The job expected to have the highest number of openings is "personal care aide" – taking care of aging baby boomers in their houses or in nursing homes. The median salary of an aide is just under $20,000. They enjoy no benefits, and about 40% of them must rely on food stamps and Medicaid to make ends meet, plus many are in the "shadow economy," vulnerable to being cheated on the already miserly wages.
To measure the job market by quantity – with no regard for quality – is to devalue workers themselves. Creating 200,000 new jobs is not a sign of economic health if each worker needs two or three of those jobs to patch together a bare-bones living.

SAN ANTONIO -A Northeast Side homeowner says he feels lucky to be unharmed after he was nearly struck by an SUV that crashed into his living room Monday evening.
Police said the SUV driver initially struck a car wash on Nacogdoches Road, then drove over a metal rail, through a fence and into the home in the 3300 block of John Glenn Drive.
George Vasquez said the SUV missed him by a few feet.  "I was watching the news. It sounded like an explosion at first, couple seconds after that, here's comes a car right into my living room," Vasquez said. 
Vasquez said he asked the driver if he was "OK," and the driver asked to use his restroom.
San Antonio police took the driver in for questioning, but have not said if would face any charges or why he lost control of the SUV.

 video platformvideo managementvideo solutionsvideo player
And from the University of Texas in Austin, the student newspaper published (the Daily Texan) student loan balance data that show the students who amass the greatest debt are enrolled in departments which yield degrees and education that are least suitable to secure jobs that will generate incomes sufficient to repay the loans. The student loan system in this country is going dead broke. Perhaps we can enlist Hillary Clinton to "write" a book or give a speech on its behalf.

Sunday, June 22, 2014


Today, Michelle Wie finally became Michelle Wie!

Winner Michelle Wie, right, reads the inscriptions on the U.S. Women's Open Trophy with second place finisher Stacy Lewis, center, during the awards ceremony at the 69th National Championship in Pinehurst, N.C. on Sunday, June 22, 2014.

Read more here:

Global Warming Leads to .... Abundance.

We have all known since grade school that carbon dioxide and water are good for plants. So if the earth is really getting warmer, and more specifically, if atmospheric carbon dioxide and water content (water is the other primary product of combustion as well as a result of melting ice) are increasing, won't that make the planet green and more abundant with life? Dig around, and you will find that it once was acceptable to say that is so.

The New York Times headline read thus three decades back.


The letter described the other side of the coin.
Ecologists look at this as air pollution that disrupts the equilibrium of nature. It is not realized that the carbon cycle is not a complete cycle but a disequilibrium, which since the Carboniferous Period has removed more and more carbon from circulation. By burning fossil fuels, man does not disrupt the carbon cycle but restores it to its original intensity. 
As a result of the loss of atmospheric carbon dioxide during the centuries, there has occurred a correlated loss of circulating water immobilized in the polar ice caps. This produced increasingly frequent and widespread droughts and a progressive enlargement of the deserts. Thus, by restoring the carbon dioxide trapped in fossil fuels to the atmosphere, man increases not only the average temperature but also the average water supply for agricultural land.  
At present, about one-third of the earth's surface receives less than 10 inches of precipitation annually, and another third gets only 10 to 20 inches, quantities that make the economical use of fertilizers impossible. The greenhouse effect may solve the world's hunger problem and have far- reaching geopolitical consequences. In the Americas, areas that are now suitable only for pasture, such as the pampas of Argentina and the subarctic regions of Canada, may become fertile wheatlands. The same applies to the tundras of Siberia, which would alleviate Russia's food shortage. Iran may recapture its role as a world power. In Europe, Spain may regain its political importance, and the arid lands of the Balkans and of southern Italy may recover their fertility. North Africa and Asia Minor, which once had flourishing civilizations, may build new cities and industries. In general, the centers of power located at present in middle latitudes may shift toward the poles to avoid the enervating effects of a tropical climate. Northern New England and northern Canada may undergo a tremendous realty boom and become urbanized, while the Sun Belt may grow sugar cane instead of cotton. Futurologists have their tasks cut out to predict all the foreseeable changes. 
EDGAR TASCHDJIAN South Ozone Park, N.Y., Oct. 20, 1983 
The writer is professor emeritus of biology at St. Francis College in Brooklyn.
Garden center greenhouses at the foot of Bear Canyon, near Bozeman, Montana. Greenhouses or similar apparatus are a needed component for summer gardening in short season growing climates, such as are found in Montana..
The writer was a biologist, which is an actual scientific discipline. He ought to know.

Most everything that is written about carbon dioxide and global warming these days is alarmist, biased, distorted, exaggerated and misleading. At key points, the diatribes are just plain wrong. It is a sad commentary on the gullibility of the true believers and the sullied character of the propagandists that we need to go back so far to look at the other side of the coin. It's not called the greenhouse effect for nothing. Go back we have and go back we will.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Guten Abend aus Texas

Brown Rock would be so boring. It was founded by a German Prince, so New Braunfels (New Brown Rocks) it is. That's the name of this town between Austin and San Antonio, Texas. At one time New Braunfels was the fourth largest city in Texas, behind only Houston, San Antonio and Galveston in population. We are in town for a wedding. We went to the rehearsal dinner tonight, where we grew our extended family.

This burg is best known for its water features, spring fed rivers ideal for family tubing and rafting and a resort known as the Schlitterbahn.
We are "camped out" above the lazy river.
To the kids' great delight, that will be our home for the next number of days. In the German language (auf Deutsch) Schlitten is a sled or a slide. And Bahn is a path or a track (expressways in Germany are famously known as autobahns). Thus featured are slidepaths, or as we commonly know them, water slides. It's too bad the German exchange student who will be coming to live with us in the fall, could not be here to learn firsthand what some of her compatriots have created in America. 

Some time next week, we hope to get over to the Alamo, as neither I nor the kids have previously visited. I do know from from personal experience that the San Antonio Riverwalk can be magically other worldly on a summer's eve. As we have learned that it has been snowing just up the slopes from our home in Montana, with cold rain in the valley and highs in the 50s and low 60s, we much appreciate the opportunity to bask in true summer climate. The last time we experienced real heat like this was on our move out west two years back, crossing through Memphis. It's great to see Crepe Myrtles in bloom once again.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

So Glad to be Gone from Inside the Beltway

The liberal, entitled, elitist, NIMBY thugs from my old neighborhood in Arlington, Virginia are at it again. Extremely upset, outraged and angered by a school board proposal to, of all things, build a new elementary school in my old Arlington Heights neighborhood, they decided self help was the way to go.
Emotions were running high as the Arlington School Board on Monday night adopted its 10-year capital-improvement plan. But in the run-up to the meeting, some school activists clearly crossed a line.
Arlington Heights, where vandals,
trespassers and political thugs hang out.
Several School Board members awoke to find signs planted in their yards in support of saving the land around Thomas Jefferson Middle School, which school officials are considering for use for a new elementary school.
Going to an elected official’s house and doing such a thing is creepy at best, an attempt at intimidation at worst. Those who perpetrate it might say they meant nothing threatening by it, but threats often are in the eye of the beholder.
They are the typical liberal louts who believe in communal solutions for everything, so long as costs, burdens and impositions can be passed along to everyone else.  They love not freedom of speech but the unmitigated power to impose speech on and to control the speech of others. 

Just so you know, the President of the Arlington Heights Civic Association, and behind the scenes ringleader in this process, is also the local Democratic precinct captain, sits on the Arlington County Democratic Committee and has served on its nominating subcommittee in recent elections. 

What matters most to people like her and her comrades is that that they win at all costs. Our personal experiences with the dishonesty and hypocrisy of these people were legion. They will win because they accept nothing less.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

The Glaciers Are Disappearing

Except it is hard to say how when over a foot of snow is dumped two days before the start of summer, and before roads have been cleared of winter snow accumulations.

A photo provided by Glacier National Park shows the Sperry Chalet in Glacier National Park, Mont., Wednesday June 18, 2014. National Weather Service employees at Sperry Chalet report 14-16 inches of snow since Tuesday, June 17, 2014 morning. Tourists hunkered down in lodges, snow plowing crews stood down, and park officials were preparing for possible employee evacuations from the St. Mary area. (AP Photo/ Denise Germann).

We Appreciate the Rain

But truly, it has to warm up a bit if our tomato and pepper plants are going to grow to fruition. Man does not live by onions and radishes alone.

Hi 66°F
Lo 43°F
Precip (in)
Hi 57°F
Lo 44°F
Precip (in)
Hi 68°F
Lo 42°F
Precip (in)
Hi 61°F
Lo 43°F
Precip (in)
Hi 57°F
Lo 46°F
Precip (in)
Hi -
Lo 46°F
80 %

Don't Mess With Texas

Texas state flag.
That's how the anti-littering signs are authored along the Texas roadways. Texas is a proud state. Many facilities display an unfurled Texas flag, with no accompanying US flag, not because Texans are unpatriotic, because they are anything but; it is just that something sticks in their craw about a requirement to raise something higher than the symbol of their beloved republic. 

Tonight we are in Fort Worth, visiting friends on an intermediate stop that's famous for two things that stand out in my mind.

First are the stockyards. Between Bozeman and Fort Worth we have seen literally tens of thousands head of cattle.  These days cattle are raised primarily on private land and auctioned off on web sites and on cable TV, or purchased by roving brokers and transported on trains and trucks. But it wasn't always so.
For the drovers heading the cattle up the Chisholm trail to the railheads, Fort Worth was the last major stop for rest and supplies. Beyond Fort Worth they would have to deal with crossing the Red River into Indian Territory. Between 1866 and 1890 more than four million head of cattle were trailed through Fort Worth, which was soon known as “Cowtown.” Cowtown soon had its own disreputable entertainment district several blocks south of the Courthouse area known all over the West as “Hell’s Half Acre”. 
When the railroad finally arrived in 1876, Fort Worth became a major shipping point for livestock. This prompted plans in 1887 for the construction of the Union Stockyards about two and one half miles north of the Tarrant County Courthouse. It went into full operation about 1889.
With the buying and the selling, and the cattle driving, its wasn't long before the slaughtering and the meat packing concentrated in Fort Worth as well.
It soon became apparent that instead of shipping to other markets to process the cattle, it would be much more desirable to keep more of the business in Fort Worth by having local packing plants. A search began to lure major packers to the City. By about 1900, after much work by local businessmen, both Armour & Co. and Swift & Co. were persuaded to build plants adjacent to the Stockyards. 
Construction began in 1902, but not until after the exact site of each plant was decided by a flip of the coin. Armour won the toss and selected the northern site and Swift began to build on the southern tract, which was the site of the original Livestock Exchange and Hotel. Swift & Co. received an unexpected financial bonus when a large gravel pit was found on the southern site that was ultimately used in the construction of both plants. 
The new Livestock Exchange Building in its present location, as well as the pens and the barns, were also started in 1902. The new building was designed to house the many livestock commission companies, telegraph offices, railroad offices and other support businesses.
While construction was underway, the Fort Worth Stock Yards Company, which now included the two meat packers, incorporated much of the area north of the river adjacent to the Stockyards as North Fort Worth. In 1909 the City of Fort Worth annexed the new city with the exception 

Fort Worth Stock Yards at night.
Today, the stockyards are a historical district, with dining, drinking, rodeos, a museum and cowboy hall of fame among the principal attractions.

Fort Worth likes to say it is where the west begins. I guess that kinda depends on your perspective. We started from Montana, so if we took the slogan to heart, we would actually say the West ends here. But we are not quite prepared to give up our cowboy hats and boots as we move further east, so I guess we will just take that slogan as an expression of local civic pride instead of a geographic verity. The second cousin of Dallas is actually the United States 18th largest city, or as our youngest said as we were driving across downtown this afternoon, a place that is starting to look like New York.

The second thing that Fort Worth is famous for, in my mind at least. is it is the city where President John F. Kennedy spent his last night alive.  

The morning of November 22, 1963, President Kennnedy spoke to a breakfast function assembled by the Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce in the ballroom of the Hotel Texas, accompanied by Mrs. Kennedy and escorted by Texas native, Vice President Lyndon Baines Johnson.

LBJ, Jackie Kennedy Onassis and JFK at the Hotel Texas, November 22, 1963.

A bit later Mr. Kennedy stepped out of the hotel to say a few words to his fans gathered around, and promote Fort Worth's motto in the background, in the company of Texas Governor John Connally as well. Mrs. Kennedy stayed inside as she did not want to expose her hair to the drizzle.

JFK, John Connally and LBJ, November 22, 1963.

Air Force One made its last flight with John F. Kennedy as commander in chief aboard, later that morning, a hop and a skip from Fort Worth to Dallas's Love Field. And the rest, as they say, is history.