Although Native American attacks were still a threat in the area, pioneers were already settling near the fort. E. S. Terrell (1812–1905) claimed to be the first resident of Fort Worth. The fort was flooded the first year and moved to the top of the bluff where the courthouse sits today. No trace of the original fort remains. The fort was abandoned September 17, 1853.
Fort Worth went from a sleepy outpost to a bustling town when it became a stop along the legendary Chisholm Trail, the dusty path on which millions of head of cattle were driven north to market. Fort Worth became the center of the cattle drives, and later, the ranching industry. Its location on the Old Chisholm Trail helped establish Fort Worth as a trading and cattle center and earned it the nickname "Cowtown".
During the 1860s Fort Worth suffered from the effects of the Civil War and Reconstruction. The population dropped as low as 175, as money, food, and supply shortages burdened the residents. Gradually, however, the town began to revive.