Acre Distilling is located in the neighborhood that was Fort Worth’s original den of sin and vice in the Old West – aptly named Hell’s Half Acre.
Known to the locals as “The Acre”, this red-light district dominated much of the less genteel social scene in Fort Worth from the late 1860s until 1920.
The Acre was born out of the post-civil war cattle drives. During the late 1800s, as many as 80,000 head of cattle could be resting and feeding on the open range before the long drive to Kansas. The cattle may have rested, but the cowboys certainly did not. Instead, they headed just a bit south to spend their leisure time and money in the saloons, dance halls, brothels, gambling rooms, and drug dens of Hell’s Half Acre.
Adding to the mayhem and reputation of the Acre, the Texas and Pacific Railroad was completed with its terminus at Fort Worth in 1876. The T&P brought a variety of characters to town – buffalo hunters heading to the plains, prospectors, gamblers, cowboys, gun slingers, criminals and even a few respectable folks.
As many people know, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance kid were leaders of the notorious Hole in the Wall gang. The group robbed trains and banks across the west, but never in or near Fort Worth, as they wanted to avoid messing with the place they hung their hats.
The Acre was a good place for a gang of rough characters to hang out: It was a sketchy neighborhood, their ill-gotten gains were welcome in the saloon tills, and local law enforcement didn’t know what they looked like. Wanted posters for criminals, at the time, were all based on sketches.
The gang could easily fly under the radar while in the Acre, party, and when the time came they could take off to some other state and rob a train or bank for as much as $9,000. After the robbery, the group would scatter but eventually find their way back to the Acre, their unofficial headquarters.
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