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Fort Stockton, TX

Fort Stockton is located right off the I-10 in the middle of nowhere. It was a very important location back in the day though because it has lots of underground water. It was the crossroads for settlers traveling west and local Indian tribes traveling from the north to south of the border on raids. A fort was built and the cavalry moved in for a time to protect settlers and commerce along the route. The fort was abandoned when the Civil War started only to be re-sited and re-manned after the war for another short time. Part of the fort still stands and can be toured. It does not have walls, never did. The jail is still there, a barracks, the parade grounds, and officer’s quarters. It was cool getting to see those and how they lived.

Fort Stockton Guard HouseFort Stockton barracksFort Stockton Officer Quarters

The history of the colorful locals is interesting. I visited the Annie Riggs Museum one day. Annie had a bunch of kids and several husbands but still managed to run a hotel and seemed to be a strong smart business woman during a time when women were supposed to cook, clean, and do what their husband said. She even divorced a husband and managed to survive it well with the kids. Her hotel has 2 foot thick adobe walls and a full wrap around porch to keep cooler in the Texas heat. On the walls are pictures of how Fort Stockton looked at the start with lots of water flowing in a nearby canal for people to enjoy. Today you don’t see that due to farmers and ranchers taking too much water. The city sued them but lost. I learned there that one thing essential to building a new town is a bank. Banks are needed to make loans to bring in businesses and build them up.

Fort Stockton Annie Riggs Hotel MuseumAnnie Riggs Hotel VerandaAnnie Riggs Hotel room

Another day I visited James Rooney park. It is very large and a lovely grassy and well treed oasis in the desert. I took my lunch there for a picnic and sat in one of the many shelters. Once upon a time water flowed through the park but no more. The pond and channels are empty. There are playgrounds though and lots of people were there that day having fun. I walked the trail through the park. The town pool is located there and very nicely designed. Unfortunately, it sits on top of the aquifer and one or more of the pillars that hold it up had rotted away so it was closed for the season for repairs. Damn! I found out Balmorhea State Park had also found issues when getting ready to re-open so it too was closed all summer for repairs. No swimming for me.

James Rooney ParkJames Rooney Park playground

I got some geocaching in around town. That led me to the oldest building in town which is crumbling and fenced off but exists still nonetheless. I found Zero Stone Park near the courthouse. They hold lots of summer concerts both there and at Annie Riggs Museum. I found the original jail and got to tour it. The sheriff would live in rooms on the first floor while on the second floor they had a big room with wall and floor chains and a smaller similar room for women. Later, they added on a large room with a large cage subdivided into smaller separate cells for men, juveniles, and black women. They all shared a common cell for showers and eating. It didn’t look too pleasant but solitary looked great and if I were in there I would have punched the first person I saw in the nose to get sent to solitary. Solitary is a large room with two bunks, a semi-private shower and toilet, a table, and lots of windows. Much better accommodations! My tour guide agreed that she too would have hit someone to get put in there. LOL. On the walls were pictures of the sheriffs of the past. One of Annie’s husbands who was a real jerk that she divorced, was a sheriff who was shot one day in his office and the murder was never solved.

Fort Stockton Oldest HouseOld Fort Stockton JailNewer Portion Old Fort Stockton Jail

Apparently, every time it rains, parts of Fort Stockton flood. I didn’t see it since I was usually only on the main drag but other parts flood a lot I hear.

For lots more pics click here.

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