Fort Worth Honors Founder With ‘Overdue' Statue

On anniversary of city's founding, founder gets first statue

June 6 holds great significance in the city of Fort Worth.

On that date in 1849, the military outpost was founded on the bluffs high above the Trinity River and named for General William J. Worth.

Fort Worth was born on that day and grown ever since, but Worth wasn't the one who founded what became a city.

He would be Major Ripley Allen Arnold.

And while you can find a sleeping panther, cattle and JFK all emblazoned in bronze in the city, you couldn't find Arnold until Friday.

"I think we just sort of forgot about him," said historian Quentin McGown.

Arnold has been remembered with a small park and a now leveled housing facility in downtown. On Friday, he was given his proper due as a towering figure in Fort Worth's history with a towering statue in his honor.

The bronze sculpture stands nearly 13 feet tall on top of a nearly 10 foot pedestal.

At 22 feet high, Major Arnold now boasts the tallest sculpture in the city.

"As you come down Taylor Street, he's the first thing you see, that's pretty cool," said sculptor Archie St. Clair, who took a year to sculpt the statue.

McGown points out that it's fitting, because without Arnold, things would likely be a whole lot different.

"Without Major Arnold, at that particular point in time, Fort Worth could have ended up anywhere else or never existed at all," McGown said.

Former city councilman and current Tarrant Regional Water District board member Jim Lane has been pushing for just such a statue for decades.

Lane won't take any credit, saying many different people finally made it happen. He's just glad that everyone can now know who gave the city its start.

"We did it for the kids who want to know and the adults who should know," Lane said, his young son by his side.

The Major Arnold statue is a part of the John V. McMillan Plaza, adjacent to the Panther Island Pavilion.

McMillan's grandchildren, the Anfin family, helped pay for most of the statue and now everyone can know about McMillan's contributions to the city as the founder of Coors Distributing Company in Fort Worth and a civic leader who served on various chambers of commerce and as chairman of the Convention and Visitors Bureau.

"And understand his participation in the city's growth from sleepy little Cowtown to now the 17th largest city," said Mayor Betsy Price.

The location of the plaza and statue is fitting, too, right at the confluence of the West and Clear Forks of the Trinity and where the city's past, the outpost on the bluffs, and future, Panther Island, are well-known.

"It's our past and our future together," said Mayor Price.

It's a tribute that means the city will no longer forget its founding father.

"It's about time, but it's long over due," McGown said.

The TRWD, Tarrant County College District and several other organizations also made the plaza and statue possible.

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