Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Pecos to Del Rio via Fort Stockton

When you come into Pecos on I-20 from Toyah, you might think this is a pretty big town.  However, once you get past the string of Hotels along the Interstate, you realize that the main part of town is much removed from the hustle and bustle of the Interstate, and the reason for the hotels is simple.  There's not a lot going on in this part of West Texas, and for many, this is the only option for an overnight stay. That might also explain why the speed limit in this part of Texas is 80mph.  People tend to want to move as fast as they can back to civilization.

West of the Pecos Museum Saloon
We had a pretty long day when we pulled in, so it was nice to find the comfortable room at the Quality Inn after being turned away by other hotels.  A little exploring the next morning, after a nice tasty breakfast at Abi's Kitchen, found us at West of the Pecos Museum.  Located in an 1896 Saloon and 1904 Orient Hotel, this gem of West Texas is an internationally recognized historic landmark and a must stop for history lovers.  The Saloon has been restored and tells the story of the infamous gunfight between Barney Riggs and the henchmen of the notorious Jim Miller.  Three stories of rooms filled with area history are well worth the small admission price. While your there, make sure to go outside to see the grave of famed gunfighter Clay Allison.  And before heading out of Pecos, be sure to see the Pecos Rodeo grounds, home of the Worlds First Rodeo.  I'm sure some of you are saying that couldn't be, but Pecos is home to the first rodeo that offered prize money.

Paisano Pete, the Worlds Largest Roadrunner
We didn't get back on I-20, opting instead to head south on Highway 285 back to I-10 and Fort Stockton.  Lot's of history here with an Historic Downtown, the Annie Riggs Memorial Museum, and of course Fort Stockton Military Post, established in 1859.  This is a nice place to visit and shop the quaint shops in downtown, along with soaking up the history of this favorite rest stop along the Comanche Trail to Chihuahua, San Antonio-El Paso Road, The Butterfield Overland Mail Route, and the San Antonio-Chihuahua freight-wagon road.

A Scenic Overlook above Ft Lancaster
From Fort Stockton, we head East down I-10 and cut off onto Highway 349 for a side trip to Fort Lancaster.  The old post is located about ten miles east of Sheffield in Crockett County. It was one in a series of forts erected along the western Texas frontier,  established in August,  1855, to guard the military supplies, commercial shipments, and immigrants moving along the San Antonio-El Paso Road. Today, there is little left of the old post but ruins. Fort Lancaster was abandoned by the U.S. Army during the Civil War, at which time it was taken over by Confederate troops from December, 1861 through April, 1862.  It was then abandoned and the buildings began to deteriorate from vandalism and the harsh climate.  The drive is scenic however and it's worth a stop for history buffs.

Crockett County Courthouse
Back onto I-10 we head to Ozona, called the "Biggest Little Town in the World."  Ozona is the only city in Crockett County, which encompasses over 3,000 square miles, and sports a population of around 3400.  Crockett County was founded in 1875 and named in honor of Davy Crockett, the legendary frontiersman who died at the Battle of the Alamo.

Devils River
From Ozona, we get off the Interstate and start our trek back to Del Rio via scenic 163 to Comstock.  Along the way you will cross the Devil's River.  Near here once stood Camp Hudson, established by the U.S. Army in June, 1857 to protect the San Antonio-El Paso Road against hostile Indians. The post was evacuated during the Civil War, but, re-occupied afterwards. It was abandoned again in April, 1868. Unfortunately, there are no remains today. This area, also called Baker's Crossing is a popular entry point for rafters along the river.

Getting back to Del Rio we feel we have seen what we came for in this part of West Texas, and start making plans to wrap up our extended stay and head home.  Of course, it won't be a direct route, as there is much more to do, including Sonora, Fredericksburg, and a little town made famous through music on the way to San Antone, one of our premiere destinations of our long journey in the Lone Star State.

In the meantime, follow this part of our trip in pictures via our Facebook album here.

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