FunStuff

Small Towns in Texas 08/11/2016

Posted on: August 16, 2016

McCamey is on U.S.  67 five miles east of the Pecos River in southwestern Upton County.  We stopped there to visit the Kansas City, Mexico and Orient Railway Depot.  It is a one story wood frame combination passenger/freight depot relocated to the city park.

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Further up U.S. 67 is Rankin which is the county seat of Upton County.  Our first stop was at the Rankin Museum, but it didn’t open until 2 o’clock so we didn’t get to go in.   The museum is housed in the former “Yates Hotel”.  Ira Yates built the three-story, 46-room sandy brick hotel in 1927 at the height of the oil boom that exploded on the Pecos County ranch he owned. 

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We then went looking for the First Church in Upton County.  The “Rankin Union Church” was a non-denominational church.  The small rock church, finished in 1915, housed the local school for two years. It was county’s only church until the late 1920s. It was sold to the Methodists in 1939.

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We visited the county courthouse before moving on.  This is the second courthouse for the county.  The first one was in Upland.  The county seat moved here in 1925 and the modern brick building was completed in 1926.  It was extensively remodeled in 1958.

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Continuing up U.S. 67 you come to Big Lake.  It is the county seat of Reagan County.  Our first stop was at a vintage movie theater.  The Palace Theater opened sometime prior to 1932 and it is unknown when it closed.  It sits vacant, name gone from the marquee waiting to be rescued.

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A couple block away sits the Reagan County Courthouse.  This is the third courthouse for the county, but the first one in Big Lake.  The first two were in Stiles, TX.  This three-story Renaissance style building was erected in 1927 and is made of brick in a variegated pattern.

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We headed over to North Park where the Stiles Jail is on display.  When the county seat moved to Big Lake in 1927 and so did the 1903 wood jailhouse from Stiles.  Not sure when it was replaced and moved to the park.

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Also in the park is another Kansas City, Mexico and Orient Depot.  The wood combination passenger/freight depot dates from 1911.  It is now used as a meeting hall. 

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Further along U.S. 67 is Mertzon.  It is the county seat of Irion County. So we stopped to visit the courthouse.  A 1936 election changed the county seat from Sherwood to Mertzon. The 1937 Irion County Courthouse is a plain brick building without a hint of decoration.

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The former courthouse in Sherwood is still standing so we visited it also. The first permanent courthouse for Irion County is made of stone that was quarried nearby. It is now privately owned and is available to rent for special events and festivals.

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Our next stop was in San Angelo the county seat of Tom Green County.  We’ve visited here numerous times, but there is still some things I had missed taking pictures of.

On the courthouse lawn is a fountain.  In the middle of the fountain, a putto stands on an urn that has lion heads on either side rather than handles. The urn is the fountain bowl which is mounted on a pedestal base.

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Across the street is the public library.  But it wasn’t always a library.  It started out life as the  Hemphill-Wells Department Store.  What I like about the building is the cast concrete relief sculptures on the west wall, facing Irving Street. Figures in the work are a “salute the business, agriculture and professional faces of the San Angelo economy,” by artist Remo Scardigli.

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We must leave U.S. 67 to get to our next location of Paint Rock.  Paint Rock is the county seat for Concho County.  To get there we took the back roads (FM380
).

First we visited the over 100 year old First United Methodist Church.  The church has come a long way since August 26, 1891, when the cornerstone was laid by Grand Master of Texas. The church added classrooms to the south side of the building during the late 1920s and in 1945 the Women’s Society members worked to add rich beauty to our church with beautiful stained-glass windows. In the late 1950s an Educational Building was added.

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We then visited the Concho County Courthouse.  It was built in 1886.  The architecture is “French Second Empire”.  The use of rusticated stone which came from a quarry only a few miles away is unusual in this style.

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And so our trip ends.  Next stop – home!

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