America’s Largest Ostrich Farm


 Driving an Ostrich in Hot Springs National Park
Postcard courtesy of Donna Smith

  What other town in America has a history that includes using Ostriches for transportation?

 One of Hot Springs' oldest attractions was the Ostrich Farm located near the Alligator Farm in the Whittington Park area.  By 1903, the Ostrich Farm in Hot Springs was known as “the largest and most up-to-date ostrich farm in America.”

 Thomas Cockburn, proprietor of the Ostrich Farm, is said to have had 200 birds on his farm, with plans to increase the flock by 100 birds per year.

 The Garland County Historical Society publication "The Record" states,

"A curiosity here, seen nowhere else, was a pair of trained birds, running races daily, harnessed to specially built speed wagons.  The birds were a great attraction at state and county fairs and drew bigger crowds than any of the other features.  They could make remarkable time, in harness or ridden bareback, against horses."

 An adult ostrich stands 7 feet tall and weighs from 270 to 340 pounds.  The male birds could be dangerous, especially when they were nesting.  The male and female birds took turns nesting on the eggs.


 The Ostrich Farm in Hot Springs, Arkansas

Postcard courtesy of Donna Smith

The birds could be purchased through a catalog produced by the Ostrich Farm.  The plucking of the birds also brought income to the Ostrich owners.  Their plumes were harvested for feather and down fans, pom-poms, hair ornaments, opera wraps, roll capes, carriage wraps and stoles.

This farm was in existence until the mid 1940's.  Only one other ostrich farm in America went out of business more recently than that.

Hot Springs, a town of innovative amusement, and novel industry – the African Ostrich.


Dr. Rando PhD of Wit

 *Special thanks to the Garland County Historical Society and “The Record” for information.


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