Had we not ventured into Fort Stockton and walked the “historical trail” we might have left this town thinking it was rather sad and dilapidated, a halfway house on the road from San Antonio to El Paso, a town that had seen better days. This is in effect true, but having learnt a little about the place and its history we look through different eyes. Many years ago it was indeed a frontier town, a stagecoach stop on that route that led west, tales of Indian massacres, of shootouts and of the hard life back then, abound. Indeed the local museum, which was a boarding house for cowboys in the 1800’s has the very sheriffs desk at which he was shot…complete with blood stains! Its rooms filled with a cacophony of items, which are testament to the hard life back then. But little did we know that early settlers established one of the first irrigation systems in the States, using the local Comanche Springs, which gave birth to a thriving agricultural community. Sadly it thrived too readily and eventually the soil became so briny causing most of the farmers to loose their livelihood. Pecos county of which it is the “seat’ was the site of a huge oil boom, at its peak it boasted the largest well in the country. This was inevitably surpassed and though it is still an oil producer it no longer holds such a prominent position. Ever industrious there has also been a thriving industry based around sulphur, which again has seen its prominence deteriorate. Newer ventures include the wind farm that we passed yesterday, which by all accounts is prospering through its sales to a wide area and there is also a local vineyard. Never by pass the museum; you never know what you might find out. Would you believe we found some of their wine in a local supermarket and had to sample it of course. We bought one bottle of their “blush’ and found it to be most palatable and at just under two pounds a bottle it even felt good on the pocket! We just had to stock up!! Anyway I digress, back to the historic tour. Number one on the list is “Paisano Pete” an 11’ highroad runner…don’t ask! Other highlights include the early jail (in fact there are a number of large “judicial” buildings and we learn a prison too) the oldest house and the fort. http://www.tourtexas.com/fortstockton Like many of the towns we have passed along the way, most of the modern development tends to follow the direction of the main interstate highways and many of them are carbon copies of each other with their “Super 8 motel, McDonalds, Waffle houses etc etc and its not until you explore the older downtown parts that you really get a feel for any individuality.
We head off again tomorrow towards El Paso but we will stop a couple of nights at Fort Davis on the way. One of the nicest things about this rather exposed barren campsite here at “Parkview” has been the fellow campers we have met, more handy hints and tips even if just a one minute walk from Bree to the office can take a couple of hours. Oh well at least the sun is shining again!
Jailhouse rock? – still the singing theme – check out the picture of the jailhouse!