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By the 1870s it had grown up to become a stopover on the Chisholm Trail, going up to the Kansas railheads.A decade later, it was still wrestling with respectability, reflected most clearly in its public entertainments.Most gentlemen’s saloons (there were other types, too) would not serve proper ladies and frowned upon the other kind of women hanging around the premises.The White Elephant name was such a familiar one to Texans in its day that it could have been a franchise.The color white also has a certain racist subtext, too, because frontier saloons tended to be strictly segregated places.For instance, Fort Worth also had an African-American bar called the Black Elephant.

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A well-stocked bar was usually among its amenities, but not the main attraction.A true Western saloon, such as the White Elephant, was a different critter from any of its nearest kin — the dance house, parlor house or variety theater — even though they were often to be found right next door to each other.The saloon was first and foremost a men-only establishment where drinking and gambling were the main attractions, not retail sex.Fort Worth’s White Elephant staked its claim to fame on offering the highest quality gambling and food service anywhere in the Southwest for three decades.It was memorable enough to merit respectful mention in the 1902 memoirs of outlaw-lawman James Mc Intire and the 1907 recollections of lawman-gambler Bat Masterson. The food was inferior to that at two nearby places — the Planter’s House and the Commercial Restaurant — and the owner’s profits remained anemic, so the place was seized by attachment.

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