White Elephant Saloon
The White Elephant Saloon is located in the heart of the Stockyards National Historic District in Fort Worth, TX. If you’re looking for an authentic western experience, look no further. The swinging doors off of Exchange Avenue also act as a time portal of sorts. Upon entrance, one can’t help but feel as if you just stepped into the old west. The saloon first opened its doors in the 1890s in Fort Worth’s dangerous and appropriately named Hell’s Half Acre. While the saloon was relocated to the Stockyards in the 1970s, the spirit of that original location has remained.
The White Elephant became known for offering the highest quality gambling and food in the Southwest. It earned mention in the 1902 memoirs of outlaw turned lawman James McIntire as well as the 1907 recollections of the infamous Bat Masterson. It was also known for some time as the site of the famous shootout between Luke Short and Timothy Courtright. While the gambling and gunfights are long passed, the high quality food remains with offerings from Chef Tim Love.
Cowtown’s most historic saloon sits directly across the street from the Stockyards Hotel on Exchange Avenue. The White Elephant features live music seven nights a week along with a full service bar, pool tables, shuffleboard and a newly opened private room.
The stage is small but the names that have graced it are anything but, and have included Leon Russell, Don Williams, Charlie Daniels, Billy Joe Shaver, Dale Watson, Roy Clark, Red Steagall and Don Edwards just to name a few. From Country Music to Cowboy Singers and Western Swingers the White Elephant Saloon has hosted them all, including the current generation of Texas Country stars. Cowboy hats with wooden name plates align the walls and ceiling like a Western Wall of Honor dedicated to the musicians, rodeo cowboys, local heroes and dedicated patrons who have shared in its legacy.
I’m looking forward to returning there myself later this month. I first played the White Elephant Saloon in 1998 and am proud to say that I’ve been back every year since. I’ve made a lot of friends at the White Elephant Saloon over the years, as well as many fond memories. I’ll be returning on Thursday October 22nd at 8 pm. If you get a chance, come out and say “Hello”.
Rodney Hayden's debut album The Real Thing was released in 2002 by Rosetta Records, a label owned by his mentor Robert Earl Keen. He's since released over a half dozen records and toured worldwide while building a loyal fan base. He's also a talented songwriter, having collaborated with artists George Strait, Gary Allan, Johnny Rodriguez and more. He lives in San Antonio with his wife and young son.