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27 July 2012 / leggypeggy

Downtown Dallas—plenty of stairs?

I really should pay closer attention.

The woman at the tourist office in Dallas suggested that we visit Pioneer Plaza in downtown Dallas. I heard her say ‘It has 42 stairs and a large cowboy statue at the top’.

I had twisted my knee about two weeks before we started this trip and, although it had recovered nicely, I twisted it again trying to track down Poor John in the Dallas International Airport—a long story that deserves explaining so stay tuned.

By this stage, I had started wearing a knee brace and wasn’t too keen to climb 42 stairs to anywhere. So our dear friend, Potsie, and I hung around in the Old Red Museum while Poor John traipsed off to see the stairs and statute.

He returned, looking rather too smug. ‘Just so you know, there weren’t 42 stairs. There were 42 steers. Sort of like a mini cattle drive.’

One of the bronze riders.

This I had to see! So the next day, with a darn backpack to further hamper me, we trudged several blocks from the Greyhound bus station to the famous Pioneer Plaza.

In the early 1990s, the city donated just over four acres of land in the Convention Center District. Real estate developer, Trammell Crow, who had the idea to begin with, got people to donate for the sculptures. In all it cost $9 million, with more than half the money coming from local individuals and businesses. I read that local artists tried to stop the project, saying it was historically inaccurate for the city, but the display opened on time in 1994.

The bronze sculptures, created by artist Robert Summers of Glen Rose, Texas, commemorate 19th century cattle drives that took place along the Shawnee Trail.

Poor John was wrong about the number of steers. There are 70, plus three trail riders. Each steer is a whopping 6-feet tall; and all together the sculpture is the largest bronze monument of its kind in the world.

Apparently it’s going to get even bigger. New steers are added to the herd from time to time.  It is the city’s second most visited tourist attraction. And to think, I almost missed it!

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