Texas - the only state whose charter to this day allows it to secede from the United States! And tucked away in the state's far southwest corner, Brewster County stands as a living history of cowboys, cattlemen, ranches, and rugged individualism. Only about 10,000 residents currently live in this county that is larger in area than the combined size of the states of Rhode Island and Connecticut. Standing as witness to the county's history is the Brewster County courthouse, set in the largest Big Bend area town of Alpine.
For being in West Texas, Brewster County played a quiet role in the tales of the Wild West. Off the beaten path of notorious gunmen, land rushes, famous towns, and gun battles, the area attracted settlers who longed for big spaces and a quiet life on their own terms with little interference. Following the new ranch owners were the towns to support the ranching industry and built along the railroad lines. These towns were the hubs of business and society for the hearty inhabitants in this sometimes inhospitable environment.
In March of 1887, soon after Brewster County was organized, the county commissioners ordered the design and construction of the courthouse. Using bricks made in nearby Ranger Canyon to the west of Alpine, plus limestone and tin, the building is a fine example of the American Second Empire architectural style. The courthouse building was later accepted into the National Register of Historic Places in July of 1978.
With the distinction of having an exceptionally low crime among its less than 10,000 residents over almost 7,000 square miles, the Brewster County courthouse has nonetheless witnessed its share of colorful events over the years - land feuds, the occasional murder, and even a public hanging.
Today you can step back in time by spending a quiet hour or so viewing the delightful exhibit of historical photos and artifacts on display in the courthouse. Then just step outside to see real cowboys and West Texas ideals still alive today on the streets and ranches of this vast and ruggedly beautiful county.
For more information about Brewster Country, Alpine, and the Big Bend area, visit:
Kip Piper is a web/graphic designer, marketing basics trainer, and crafter. She has authored several business and home books.