Whoa! Pistol On Vaquero Statue Causing Stockyards Showdown

vaquero 12 Whoa! Pistol On Vaquero Statue Causing Stockyards Showdown

Credit: David Nelson

FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) – It was an idea that began in a committee of the Fort Worth Arts Commission: Build a statue representing the hard work and enormous influence of Mexican culture in the Old West.

The model shows a vaquero on trotting horse, coiled rope in hand, sombrero-clad head looking to his left as if singling out the cow in the herd needing his attention. It would sit at Main and Central Streets, at the gateway to The Stockyards.

Cost: $250,000. Half from the city, half from donations.

The process took years. But on the final ten foot bronze statue there was one thing added by the artists they were specifically told not to add.

“It was something that was decided on eight years ago, that there would be no pistol,” said Manuel Valdez, a Justice of the Peace who also served as the Vaquero Committee Chairman. “That was an agreement by all of us, the artist and the committee.”

The completed statue has a holstered pistol and gun belt with bullets.

“They based it on the fact it was not historically accurate,” said David Newton, one of two artists who created the work.

What committee members say they wanted to portray was the Spanish and Mexican influence that led to the western culture.  There is a cowboy statue on the North side of the Stockyards with a person wearing a pistol.

But Valdez argues only a small portion of vaqueros wore pistols and in a narrow time frame of the vaqueros history.  He didn’t want the statue to confuse fact with a Hollywood image of a pistolero.  “The vaquero has, for hundreds of years, no pistol.”

But the artists say they kept researching during their eight years of work.  “During that research we found so much evidence that vaqueros did indeed have side arms at that time,” Newton said. “They were expected to have them, as all cowboys were.”

Newton said the side arms were used to protect the vaqueros and the herd from danger. So, the artists added the gun and triggered the controversy.

“They broke the agreement, in our point of view,” Valdez said.

“We were mandated in our contract to produce a vaquero circa 1890 that was accurate to that time,” said Newton. “So, we feel we have fulfilled that obligation.”

The artists can’t pull off the gun without a massive rework of the statue — not that the artists would do it anyway.  “I really feel an obligation to be accurate about my time and take that very seriously because i’ll literally be judged by this piece a hundred years from now,” Newton said.

“It doesn’t belong to the artist,” said Valdez. “It doesn’t belong to the committee. It belongs to all of the community.”

Now its up to lawyers to settle this old west showdown and determine if the vaquero will take his place at the gateway to Stockyards.

Lawyers briefed the Fort Worth City Council on the standoff as well. Its likely it will get involved at some point to decide what to do with the statue.


One Comment

  1. Victoria Lynn Strickland says:

    It’s a statue of a vaquero, right? A Vaquero is a Cowboy, right? They ALL carried sidearms so what is all of the fuss about? Have we gotten too poltically correct all of a sudden? It IS historically accurate. Are we trying to change history….again???

    1. retphxfire says:

      Victoria, your baseless fear that someone may take away your popgun has caused you to miss one huge point: The artists were commissioned to produce a certain ‘product’, they did not fulfill their contract. If they had agreed to put mouse ears on the statue then that is what they were contractually obligated to do, not change at their whim. As for being PC…that has become the new battle cry of the right and it’s just as overworked as other ‘buttions’. sheesh

  2. CHUCK WATTS says:


  3. beatssolo says:

    Won’t take much according to stick an absolute pin here in this one.This is just the data I am finding in every single place.monster beats pro Me as well as my good friend were arguing about an concern similar to this!

  4. SDMP says:

    Oh, the answer to this is simple. Just change the sombrero to a regular cowboy hat and put it in a park in an Anglican neighborhood. Nobody will complain there. The only complaints you’ll hear of after that is done is from those who complained in the first place. Don’t hide history! It was the way law and safety was pursued within the Southwest territories of the U.S. in the 19th and early 20th century. Duh.

  5. History Buff says:

    Based on historical accuracy,use the same logic in naming the new Chisolm Trail highway. Whether or not they wore pistols really doesn’t matter.

  6. FedUpTxn says:

    Why are Texans once agan pandering to Hispanic demands? Germans made a bigger contribution to Texas, why no tribute to them? Why no demands to speak German? Oh yea, because Mexicans now think this state is theirs!

    1. JB says:

      Amen FedUp!! We are nothing but a society of cowards anymore. Constantly afraid we aren’t going to be politically correct. If they don’t like the damned statute, don’t put it in place. Stop kissing every minority ass that comes along. Who really gives a damn whether there is a statue of a damned Mexican cowboy in place or not. This is nothing more than a waste of good taxpayer money anyway.

  7. Hoo says:

    I could deal with German as the Texas state language. Not a problem. Noch ein bitte.

    1. zack says:

      Ich habe keine Probleme beim Sprechen oder Schreiben in Deutsch entweder Fur Vaterland und Texas!

  8. Hemroidious says:

    It’s a beautiful statue use it like it is. Good grief!

  9. Rick McDaniel says:

    Gotta say, given the era, a man without a firearm, was taking a huge risk, and I find it less than credible, that a Vaquero would not carry a pistol, anymore than a cowboy would not carry a pistol, while driving cattle on a ranch on on the trail.

    That wasn’t because of other humans, but because of wild animals, snakes, and other potential threats, that might be encountered, almost any where, and any time, including the potential for stampedes, in storms, when a gun might be the only effective way to turn a herd.

  10. Charlotte says:

    So no one is going to address the obvious… the artists did NOT create what they were commissioned to create They owe the money back.

  11. Les says:

    $ 250,000 dollars? They could have had it made in Mexico for a fraction of the cost! What a waste of money.

  12. Wallace Freeman says:

    They should have put Han Solo on a bantha with an Imperial blaster strapped to his hip.

  13. Bob Goodwin says:

    First off, it’s a revolver not a pistol……….

Comments are closed.

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