How Fort Worth Became Panther City
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As Fort Worth stepped into the twentieth century, its path was nearly derailed before it even began.

After the Civil War, the promise of railways symbolized progress and prosperity, sparking competition among cities to secure a spot on the expanding railway network. Dallas secured its place, and Fort Worth seemed next in line.


Yet, the dream of a connected Fort Worth nearly crumbled when a financial crisis rocked the railroad industry. Bankruptcies, loan defaults, and a nationwide depression brought the Texas and Pacific Railroad to a grinding halt just miles east of Fort Worth. Facing a mass exodus of its residents, Fort Worth teetered on the edge.


Then, Robert E. Cowart, a Dallas lawyer, wrote a letter to the Dallas Herald, claiming to have seen a live panther snoozing on Fort Worth’s Main Street, poking fun at the city’s desolation. This cheeky move sparked a response from B.B. Paddock, editor of the Fort Worth Democrat, who had a new masthead created featuring a panther with the motto “Where the Panther Laid Down.” This playful exaggeration inspired the remaining citizens to take action. With grit, determination, and a little bit of crazy, they laid down the railroad tracks themselves just before a crucial deadline and celebrated their achievement in a spectacular ‘Railroad Days’ festival.


Thus, the legend of Panther City was born.

Embracing the panther as a symbol of resilience, Fort Worth proudly adopted it as a mascot, adorning emblems, businesses, and buildings with its image. Today, a bronze sculpture of the Sleeping Panther rests on Main Street, a testament to Fort Worth’s unwavering spirit and ability to overcome adversity.


While some may call it Cowtown, others groove to the beat of Funky Town, but within Panther City Films, our loyalty lies with the panther. Regardless of your chosen nickname for Fort Worth, remember this: Underestimate Panther City at your peril.


The tale of the Sleeping Panther serves as a poignant reminder of Fort Worth’s rich history and its people’s determination to rise above challenges against all odds.

Panther City