Fort Stockton, Texas
Home of Paisano Pete, World's Largest Road Runner
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After driving for hours through West Texas, Fort Stockton's wealth of things to see is downright delightful. Any visit should start at the town's big intersection, where Business 10 (US 285) crosses Main Street and the railroad tracks.
The town's most notorious resident stands watch over the entrance to downtown Fort Stockton. Paisano Pete, the world's largest road runner, stands in mid-stride on the southeast corner of the intersection.
It's hard to believe that anyone could have a hard time spotting Pete, but I did. I think I was too busy trying to figure out which road to take, and I didn't look around for him. A little later, I had the odd experience of asking someone in town, "Excuse me, can you tell me where to find your giant road runner?"
Even if you don't spot Paisano Pete immediately, you probably will see this arched entrance to downtown Fort Stockton. The arch stretches over Main Street, and the heart of downtown is just a few blocks south of here. We'll get there in a moment, but first...
... cross the street, to the other side of US 285. There's a welcome center here...
... complete with an oil pumpjack...
... and a caboose and other railroad attractions (we are, after all, right next to the railroad tracks)...
... and a recreation of Comanche Springs. This source of water is what helped put Fort Stockton on the map. The springs created an oasis in the middle of the dry desert, used first by Comanche Indians, and later by the soldiers at the fort, farmers, and tourists.
Speaking of the fort, yes, you can still find the old military outpost at Fort Stockton. Head south on Main Street, then east on 3rd Street. I did not have time to take a tour of the fort, so I just snapped a few pictures from the street.
St. Stephen's Episcopal Church is located across the street from the fort. It's the oldest protestant church west of the Pecos River. It was built in 1896 in Pecos, Texas, and moved to its current location in 1956.
Downtown Fort Stockton is just a few blocks west of the fort, and it's well worth a few minutes of wandering around.
On the side of the Happy Daze 50's diner...
there's a mural that honors American legends like Elvis Presley, John Wayne, and Judy Garland.
The historic Rooney Hotel, also known as the Springhirst, appeared to be boarded up, even though a sign in the window promised that it would open in Spring, 2011 as retail space.
The Rooney/Springhirst was built in 1910. The third floor was added in 1931.
Fort Stockton's Police Department is now headquartered in the old First National Bank building, which dates back to 1912.
The official center of town (and for that matter, the center of everything in West Texas) is a few blocks further down Main Street, in front of the Pecos County Courthouse. The Zero Stone was laid in place by surveyors in 1859, creating an origin point for all land surveys in the surrounding area.
St. Joseph Catholic Church also faces the courthouse square.
Back on the main road, I found a few signs that seemed worthy of a photo...
... before hopping back on Interstate 10, and continuing the drive west.
|Sheffield to Fort Stockton, via Interstate 10|
... and the drive from Fort Stockton to Balmorhea:
|Fort Stockton to Balmorhea via I-10, TX-17|
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