Swift Meat Packing, Fort Worth Texas

Right next to the Fort Worth Stockyards is a large abandoned industrial complex that used to be the Swift Meat Packing Plant. It was part of Gustavus Swift’s family of companies and was in operation from about 1902 to 1971.  It soon fell into disrepair due to numerous fires from trespassing vagrants, gang activity and graffiti taggers.


View Swift Meat Packing Plant in a larger map

There are still several large buildings on the property that are open to some urban exploring though care should be taken, it’s quite apparent that numerous homeless have taken up residence here.  I didn’t do this excursion alone. I had a friend with me as a second set of eyes. It’s funny but one of the creepiest things we encountered was this lost child’s toy:

Lost Toy
Lost Toy

It really puts some nightmarish Freddy Kruger/Halloween thoughts in your head.  The first building we entered, Processing 1, was the smallest at the complex and had some of the freshest graffiti:

Processing 1
Processing 1

The names I’m giving these buildings are for reference and based on the order we entered them or from what they looked like.  Processing 1 was two stories and except for the graffiti, it was rather unremarkable.  Next door was Processing 2:

Processing 2
Processing 2

It had a lot of internal damage from fires and the second level wasn’t accessible. The stairs were missing and we didn’t want to chance climbing up the outside ladder. Behind Processing 2 was the Garage.  It was a large open metal structure adjacent some storage areas. It had one of the more interesting homeless shelter setups:

A bed and chair!
A bed and chair!

Most of the doors were free to swing in the breeze so as we wandered around we could hear various banging and squeaking which really plays with your mind. Fires and the passage of time have really done a number to the place.  Interestingly though, in around 2008 the site was used as a set piece for the TV show Prison Break.  They converted one of the structures into a South American Prison and added several guard towers:

Prison Break
Penitenciaria Federal de Sona

The grey stucco facade and windows are complete fakes but its interesting how your mind is fooled by the movie magic.  The three guard stations that were built also have paint that mimics age but upon closer inspection you can see the timbers are new.  Its a sharp contrast to the wood that’s been around since about 1902 making up the roofs of the warehouse structures:

Roof collapse
Don’t be scared little tiger

The remains of the roof looked like it could come down at any moment but that doesn’t scare the tiger guarding the place.  He wasn’t the last toy we came across, parked outside of Processing 4 was this little tike:

Little Tike's last ride
Little Tike’s last ride

If you will notice, the fourth floor of Processing 4 has no windows.  Winding up the interior stairwell lead us to a room that was behind a large heavy refrigeration door:

The Black Room
The Black Room

It was dark, but the sky lights let in enough light to see that the walls had been painted black causing the graffiti to also glow as if under black light. That room kind of creeped us out so we didn’t stick around there.  The last structure we entered was the largest and had extensive damage to it’s northern face.  The wall had completely fallen exposing the interior to the elements:

Exposed
Exposed

This building is different from the others in that each large room is accessed from the stairwell through large refrigeration type doors. It kind of implies that every floor was heavily cooled for what ever processing that went on.  It also has a large service elevator that would have serviced all five floors. We were about out of time so we headed out to meet back up with Virginia and get some much deserved beers.  In total we spent about 3 hours there and the complete Flickr set can be viewed here: Swift Meat Processing Plant

19 thoughts on “Swift Meat Packing, Fort Worth Texas”

  1. Did you have to get permission from anyone to go to the Swift Packing Plant? The doors seem to be chained shut. Please let me know as I would like to photograph the graffiti. Thanks.

    1. You may want to ask. I didn’t because it was kind of a spur of the moment thing. If you do go make sure you have a friend or 2 with you. It’s quite big and theres lots of places unsavory characters could be hanging out.

  2. Great shots !

    Didn’t know you could enter that property without trespassing !
    W’ve noticed this building when we visited the stockyards for the first time.
    We even took a shot : Here’s the link to our Flickr-account :
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/drriss/8038630539/
    Might check it out now too to make some more pictures if we can get inside.

    You’ve done a great job with yours. Congratulations.
    We are amateur photographers who moved from Belgium to Dallas for a 3 year work related project and exploring the surroundings of Dallas and Fort Worth.

    Thanks for this info.

  3. I’ve been doing street art since the late 80’s .I began piecing with some of my closest friends in Los Angeles Ca.And we still do graffiti art till this very day .Now that I have moved to the Dfw area I’ve been wanting to kill some walls but don’t want any trouble, been there and done that already. Are the any legal spots to hit in the area , thanks!!!!!

        1. There is an entrance to the meat packing place. If you park at the stock yards and walk up the street to where you see a trail just follow the fence until it turns and along that wall the gate will have a hole you can enter in. I went to the incinerator today and there seems to be people living there in the abandoned building. I went up the stairs all the way to the top floor and saw two sleeping bags, dog food, fresh water, and a few clothes and the pee was pretty fresh. And as I was leaving when my friends split up we heard screaming from babies, women, men, and children. It wasnt really scary just kinda creepy with how dark it is. Nothing is scary until your getting ready to leave. We were hearing little noises while we were in there like car alarms going off but they were all in our geads

  4. If you want to see this location, do it now. This complex is schedule for demolition at the beginning of this year (and it’s not one of those, “pipe dream” demolitions that will never happen, they have already leveled the surrounding landscape as well as demolished other properties in the Stockyards area)!

      1. Have you shot this place yet. I’m needing a second person to go with me. I went alone angled due to all the noises around me

  5. demolition on the building where they process and killed the cattle has been demolished (i think it was on monday july 25) a few days ago, the taller building with the windowless 4th floor has also been demolished that same day, the building with the ‘fake’ windows used for the tv show is rumored to be preserved

Let me know what you think!