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Alpine, Texas


Alpine, Texas

Alpine, Texas
Nickname(s): The Heart of Big Bend
Location in the state of Texas
Location in the state of Texas
Coordinates: [1]
Country United States
State Texas
County Brewster
 • Mayor Avinash Rangra
 • Total 4.7 sq mi (12.1 km2)
 • Land 4.7 sq mi (12.1 km2)
 • Water 0.0 sq mi (0.0 km2)
Elevation 4,475 ft (1,364 m)
Population (2010)[2]
 • Total 5,905
 • Estimate (2013)[2] 6,054
 • Density 1,259/sq mi (486.2/km2)
Time zone CST (UTC-6)
 • Summer (DST) CDT (UTC-5)
ZIP codes 79830-79832
Area code(s) 432
FIPS code 48-02104[3]
GNIS feature ID 1377837[4]
Website .comcityofalpine

Alpine is a city in and the county seat of Brewster County, Texas, United States.[5] The population was 5,905 at the 2010 census.[6] The town has an elevation of 4,475 feet, and the surrounding mountain peaks are over a mile high. The university, hospital, library, and retail make Alpine the center of the sprawling (12,000 square miles) but wide open Big Bend area (combined population only 12,500) including Brewster, Presidio, and Jeff Davis counties.


  • History 1
  • Geography 2
  • Climate 3
  • Demographics 4
  • Education 5
    • Colleges and universities 5.1
    • K-12 schools 5.2
  • Museum 6
  • Library 7
  • Hospital 8
  • Sports 9
  • Sites on National Register of Historic Places 10
  • Attractions 11
    • Attractions in and close to Alpine 11.1
  • Annual Events 12
  • Public Art 13
  • Popular Culture 14
  • Post offices 15
  • Transportation 16
  • See also 17
  • References 18
  • External links 19


Brewster County Courthouse. Built in 1888 by local contractor Tom Lovell.[7]

The area had been a campsite for cattlemen tending their herds between 1878 and the spring of 1882, when a town of tents was created by railroad workers and their families. Because the section of the railroad was called Osborne, that was the name of the small community for a brief time. The railroad needed access to water from springs owned by brothers named Daniel and Thomas Murphy, so it entered into an agreement with the Murphys to change the name of the section and settlement to Murphyville in exchange for a contract to use the spring. In November 1883 the Murphys registered a plat for the town of Murphyville with the county clerk of Presidio County.

The town's name was changed to Alpine on February 3, 1888, following a petition by its residents. At this time a description of the town mentioned a dozen houses, three saloons, a hotel and rooming house, a livery stable, a butcher shop, and a drugstore, which also housed the post office.[8]

Alpine grew very slowly until Sul Ross State Normal College (now [8]

The town was always small enough that no one insisted on tearing down old buildings to make parking lots, and it is still too small to interest big box store chains. The Holland Hotel, built during a brief mercury mining boom,[7] was designed by Henry Trost, a distinguished regional architect. Today it helps to anchor a traditional downtown of early 20th-Century buildings still occupied by family-owned retailers and restaurants.


The town sits on a high plateau, in the Chihuahua Desert, with the Davis Mountains to the north and the Chisos Mountains to the south. Outcrops of ancient volcanic rocks spread to the northwest. Other layers of rocks have been exposed over time as the mountains were forced up and then eroded. The high altitude cools the desert air in the evenings.

Alpine is located on U.S. Route 90 about 26 miles (42 km) east of Marfa and 31 miles west of Marathon.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 4.7 square miles (12.1 km2), all land.[9]


In the winters, ample sunshine usually warms the days, though the nights can be chilly due to the 4,475 feet elevation. In the summer, the fierce sun causes hot days, pleasantly relieved in the evening by the same high elevation. According to the Köppen Climate Classification system, Alpine has a semi-arid climate, abbreviated "BSk" on climate maps.[10]

  • Coordinates:
  • Elevation: 4,450 feet (1,356 m)[11]
Climate data for Alpine, Texas (Mar 1, 1900–Mar 31, 2013)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °F (°C) 81
Average high °F (°C) 60.5
Daily mean °F (°C) 46.4
Average low °F (°C) 32.7
Record low °F (°C) 0
Average precipitation inches (mm) 0.53
Average snowfall inches (cm) 1.3
Average precipitation days (≥ 0.001 in) 3.41 2.92 2.44 2.52 5.20 7.48 8.46 8.38 7.86 4.74 2.99 3.14 60.29
Source: Western Regional Climate Center, Desert Research Institute[12]


As of the 2000 census,[3] there were 5,786 people, 2,429 households, and 1,435 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,416.5 people per square mile (547.5/km²). There were 2,852 housing units at an average density of 698.2 per square mile (269.9/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 79.19% White, 1.33% African American, 0.81% Native American, 0.45% Asian, 0.07% Pacific Islander, 15.45% from other races, and 2.70% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 50.31% of the population.

There were 2,429 households out of which 28.7% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 43.7% were married couples living together, 11.8% had a female householder with no husband present, and 40.9% were non-families. 34.3% of all households were made up of individuals and 13.1% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.34 and the average family size was 3.04.

In the city the population was spread out with 24.3% under the age of 18, 14.1% from 18 to 24, 26.0% from 25 to 44, 20.8% from 45 to 64, and 14.9% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 34 years. For every 100 females there were 93.7 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 90.4 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $23,979, and the median income for a family was $31,658. Males had a median income of $27,720 versus $19,575 for females. The per capita income for the city was $13,587. About 15.5% of families and 20.9% of the population were below the poverty line, including 22.3% of those under age 18 and 17.1% of those age 65 or over.


Colleges and universities

Sul Ross State University, began as a teachers college in 1920, with its original campus in Alpine. Named for Lawrence Sullivan Ross, Texas' 19th governor and later president of the new land grant college which became Texas A&M, it is now a member of the Texas State University System.

The 600-acre main campus on the lower slopes of Hancock Hill contains 20 or so buildings, most designed in Classical Revival style, and all harmoniously faced with red brick and white trim.[15] The hillside gives fine views of the town below and the surrounding mountain ranges. The Bar-SR-Bar brand of the college is whitewashed on stones high above. In 1981, students placed a desk on Hancock Hill and today visitors are invited to hike up to "sign the register".[15]

About 2,000 students attend here, many living in Lobo Village, which boasts 250 new apartment-style residence units. Both Bachelor's and Master's programs are available in fields such as Behavioral and Social Sciences, Business Administration, Computer Science and Mathematics, Education, Geology, Law Enforcement, and Vocational Nursing.[16]

Sul Ross ranked #4 in affordability among public universities according to U.S. News & World Report.[15] It was included in “The Nation’s 30 Most Attractive Yet Affordable Campuses,” published by, based on its combined qualities of affordability and the beauty of the campus and surrounding area.[17]

Intercollegiate sports include men's and women's basketball, cross country, track & field, and tennis, along with men's baseball and women's softball, men's football and women's soccer, and women's volleyball.[18] The teams are known as the Lobos, and play in the American Southwest Conference.[19]

Sul Ross was the founding home of the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association in 1949. The Sul Ross Rodeo Club competes in 10 NIRA rodeos each year. The NIRA rodeo hosted in Alpine is a big event for the school and the community.[20]

K-12 schools

Alpine Independent School District serves more than 1,000 local students attending Alpine Elementary School, Alpine Middle School, and Alpine High School, in classes from Pre-K, Kinder, and 1st thru 12th grades.[21]

On the Texas Education Agency Report card for 2013-2014, the high school, with 277 students in grades 9-12, reached "Met Standard" overall, while receiving Distinction Designations in Mathematics, Social Studies, Top 25% Closing Performance gaps, and Postsecondary Readiness. Notably, average class sizes in Alpine High are only about two-thirds the state average.[22] The Middle School, with 309 students in grades 5-8, also reached "Met Standard", while receiving Distinction Designations in Mathematics and Social Studies.[23]

School colors are Purple and Old Gold. The high school is home to the Alpine Fightin' Bucks and Lady Bucks. Sports include football, volleyball, cross-country, girls' basketball, boys' basketball, powerlifting, track & field, baseball, softball, golf, athletic training, and tennis. Alpine hosts the Big Bend Mountain Ramble, a "mile-high cross country meet, the highest race in Texas", as well as high school and junior high relays.

Alpine Montessori School[24] is a private, non-sectarian, non-profit school which serves grades pre-K through 6th.

Alpine Christian School is a non-denominational Christian school serving grades pre-K through 12.


The Museum of the Big Bend on the Sul Ross campus uses world-class exhibits of Native American artifacts, cultural history, geology, paleontology, and Western art to introduce the visitor to the Big Bend region. Subjects include the area's Indian tribes, the Buffalo soldiers, the mining era, the stagecoach, the railroad, and the history of Big bend National Park. The overview includes historic photographs and short videos. The handsome building was constructed in 1937 with local stone. Funding came from the Texas Centennial Commission and the Works Progress Administration, a federal make-work program during the Depression. Open Tuesday-Sunday, free admission.[25]


The Alpine Public Library opened a large and modern facility in February, 2011, offering computer use with free Wi-Fi and access to online data, as well as traditional books, magazines and other periodicals, CDs and DVDs. Located at 805 W. Avenue E, it has a community meeting room, and is open Mon-Fri 9:30 a.m.-6 p.m., and Saturday 10-3 p.m.

Begun by volunteers in 1947, the Alpine Public Library remains an independent entity with its own Board of Directors, though it is well-supported by the taxpayers of Brewster County and the City of Alpine.[26] The community institution has a professional staff of nine, but much of the work is still done by volunteers. Special programs, like a Science Club and Computer Learning, are aimed at users from pre-schoolers and teens to parents and retirees.[27]

The Re-Reads Bookstore offers great bargains in gently used paperbacks, hardbacks, CDs and DVDs, etc.[28]


Big Bend Regional Medical Center is a 25-bed facility in a modern building. Complete inpatient and outpatient services are provided by more than 15 healthcare professionals. It is an award-winning Joint Commission accredited acute care facility with a Level 4 Trauma and designated Emergency Department.[29]


Alpine is home to the Alpine Cowboys independent baseball team.[30] A member of the Pecos League, the Cowboys play their home games at the historic and world famous Kokernot Field.

Sites on National Register of Historic Places

The Brewster County Courthouse and Jail. Built in 1887-1888 by Tom Lovett, a local contractor, who apparently designed the buildings as well (documentation is scarce).

Open to visitors, with historic photographs displayed in the great hall.

The red brick courthouse is a fine vernacular example of the American Second Empire Style. The rectangular mass has five bays of paired round arch window openings on the longer north and south facades. The shorter east and west facades have three bays. On three facades the center bay contains a doorway at ground level, set in a thin, barely protruding pavilion. The second story windows are slightly taller than the first floor openings, a trick of the eye making the two-and-a-half story building seem even taller. The walls are topped by a pressed tin entablature composed of a frieze and cornice. The Mansard roof is marked by steeply hipped pyramidal towers with pressed tin cresting. The interior retains exemplary pressed tin ceilings and some original woodwork. A wooden staircase with Eastlake type details rises to the General Courtroom on the second floor.

The adjoining Brewster County Jail is distinguished by a crenelated brick parapet wall, suggesting "a fortress-like impregnability".[7]

Located on the Courthouse Square between Avenue D and Avenue E, US Hwy 67, between 6th and 7th Streets.


Alpine makes a central base for exploring area attractions: the Big Bend National Park, Big Bend Ranch State Park, Fort Davis National Historic Site, Davis Mountains State Park with its Indian Lodge, the Chihuahuan Desert Nature Center and Botanical Gardens, and the McDonald Observatory, perched atop Mt Locke at 6,790 feet. Also worth visiting are Marathon with its iconic Gage Hotel; the historic hotel Limpia and B&B's of Fort Davis; Marfa with the Chinati Foundation museum of Minimalist Art; the ghost town of Terlingua and the golf resort of Lajitas; and the River Road, FM 170, a 120-mile scenic route thru the majestic Rio Grande valley between Presidio and the Big Bend parks.

Attractions in and close to Alpine

Museum of the Big Bend, fun and informative displays, a children's corner, and a quality gift shop, on the campus of Sul Ross State University, giving background information on sights in the Big Bend Region.

Turner Range and Animal Science Center, hosts several rodeos and horse shows during the year at the covered S.A.L.E. Arena. At other times, students can be seen practicing their skills in the outdoor arena. The facility is near the main campus of Sul Ross.

Historic Walking/Windshield Tour, pass historic homes, churches, and other sites, and thru the Main Street City downtown district with several murals, following a brochure available at the Chamber of Commerce.

Night life, the local community, students from the college, and passing tourists support a thriving music scene. Dance to performances by bands of assorted genres at Railroad Blues. Also find live music at Harry's Tinaja, an eclectic bar downtown.

Restaurant scene, The Murphy St Raspha Co.[31] features an upscale snow-cone of syrup over soft smooth ice atop ice cream. Restaurants range from the Reata with reservations suggested,[32] the Saddle Bar on Holland Ave. and the Century Grill in the Holland Hotel,[33] to the Cow Dog,[34] an enormously popular food truck, and many more.

Woodward Ranch, go prospecting on your own, the only place on earth with the Red Plumed Agate, along with other agates, geodes, and semiprecious stones. If you don't find any nuggets, the gift shop has them.

The Chamber of Commerce and Teri Smith have more information on other locations to seek examples of the various rocks in the area.[35]

Stillwell Store - Hallie's Hall of Fame Museum, located out in the empty ranch lands, where you can appreciate the hard but fulfilling life of a woman in the Old West.

Blue Creek Trail, follow a scenic hiking path, mostly along dry stream channels, passing towering rocks of vivid earth tones. The first part is easy going, easy return, but the trail extends for many miles with greater challenges. Summer is truly hot, take lots of water, or take your hike in the fall, winter, or spring.

Alpine Country Club, next to Kokernot Field, has a popular 9-hole golf course.

Big Bend Brewing Company, located along U.S. West Highway 90, was established in 2012. Proclaimed the "beer from out here", Big Bend Brewing Company was recently voted the most remote brewery in America.[36] Beer tours and tastings are held weekly.[37]

Annual Events

Texas Cowboy Poetry Gathering, February 27–28, the 29th annual celebration of the oral tradition of working cowboys in poetry, song, and music.

Trappings of Texas, April 17–18, the 29th annual exhibit and sale of custom gear and Western art.

Big Bend Gem and Mineral Show, April 17–19, the 29th annual event, at the Civic Center.

Cinco de Mayo,[38] May 1–3, parade, enchilada dinner, music and dancing, car show, Grand Mercado at Kokernot Field.[39]

Alpine Cowboys,[40] May 20-July 22, professional baseball at historic Kokernot Field.

Theater of the Big Bend, June 26-July 19, 50th season features "rodeo production" of Annie Get Your Gun at the S.A.L.E. Arena.

Fourth of July/Fiestas Barrios, July 4, parade, food, music, fireworks.

Viva Big Bend music festival,[41] July 23–26, more than 50 bands at venues from Marathon to Marfa, Fort Davis to Alpine.

Drive Big Bend,[42] July 31-August 1, driving tours, music, parties, and a car show at Kokernot Field for antique, classic, and performance automobiles.

Big Bend Ranch Rodeo,[43] August 7–8, displays the skills of working cowboys (rather than rodeo professionals).

Big Bend Balloon Bash,[44] Labor Day Weekend, September 5, 6, and 7, launches of sport hot air balloons, admission free. (No balloon rides are sold.) Saturday night Fire Concert.

National Intercollegiate Rodeo, fall, Date To Be Announced, the 70th home event for Sul Ross State.

Alpine Jazz Festival,[39] September 18–19, free performances at the pavilion at the Ramada Inn.

Alpine Kite Festival, September 26, free lessons, stunt demonstrations, food, music, next to Ramada Inn.

ARTWALK2015,[45] November 20–21, art spills from the galleries onto the streets and Arbolitos Park, with chalk art of the sidewalks, live music, and a parade of flags.

Parade of Lights, December, Date To Be Announced

Public Art

A mural in the former Post Office at 109 West E St was painted as part of the New Deal make-work programs during the Great Depression. Surviving murals from the project are found in 60 or so Texas cities and towns. Completed in 1940, this mural is by a Spanish-born and trained artist, Jose Moya del Pino, who was living and working in San Francisco. In the foreground, three figures recline on a rocky overlook (somewhat improbably, but this is art, not photography). They are each reading: a book, a magazine, and a tabloid newspaper, celebrating how the Post Office brings information and education to small towns and even cattle ranches. On the horizon, the Twin Sisters peaks mark the location, with the town in the middle distance, including, at the behest of townspeople, the characteristic red brick buildings of the Sul Ross State campus.[46]

Popular Culture

  • Georgetown, Texas.
  • H. Allen Smith, the American humorist, author of Low Man on a Totem Pole, Rhubarb, and other bestsellers as well as thousands of newspaper columns and magazine articles, retired to Alpine in 1967.
  • Nelson Algren, novelist The Man with the Golden Arm, wrote his first story while working at a gas station in Alpine during the Depression (after graduating from the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana). He was caught stealing a typewriter from a classroom at Sul Ross in order to continue writing. The months he spent in jail deepened his identification with the losers and outsiders who were the characters of his later fiction.
  • Trackdown, the CBS Western television series had "Alpine, Texas" as the title of its seventh episode, starring Robert Culp as Texas Ranger Hoby Gilman. The episode first aired on November 15, 1957. In the story line, Gilman must change the false perception that has developed among the townspeople toward the Texas Rangers.[47] The Trackdown narrator begins: "Alpine was like a hundred other towns in Texas. The only thing it had that most others didn't was ... the main line of the Southern Pacific. ... There is nothing unusual about this day in Alpine except that Hoby Gilman, a Texas Ranger, rode in." At the end of the episode, when Gilman succeeds in reversing the attitude of the community, the narrator concludes: Alpine is a prosperous town again, but now there's a fine air of security about it. It's a nice town to live in, because they discovered as Hoby said they would, that when it got off its knees, it cast a much bigger shadow than it thought it did. The people of Alpine feel a lot different about a lot of things now, especially Texas Rangers.[48]

Post offices

  • Alpine Post Office 103 N. 13th Street, Alpine, Texas 79830-9998
  • Cpu Sul Ross Post Office 400 N Harrison Street, Alpine, Texas 79832-9991


In recent years, Alpine has served as an unofficial stop for bicyclists riding across the United States due to its location on the Adventure Cycling Association's Southern Tier Bicycle Route.[51]

See also


  1. ^ "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990".  
  2. ^ a b "State and County Quick Facts".  
  3. ^ a b "American FactFinder".  
  4. ^ "US Board on Geographic Names".  
  5. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved 2011-06-07. 
  6. ^ Alpine at the Texas Almanac
  7. ^ a b c
  8. ^ a b
  9. ^ a b "Geographic Identifiers: 2010 Demographic Profile Data (G001): Alpine city, Texas". U.S. Census Bureau, American Factfinder. Retrieved April 22, 2014. 
  10. ^ Climate Summary for Alpine, Texas
  11. ^ "US COOP Station Map".  
  12. ^ "ALPINE, TEXAS (410174), Period of Record Monthly Climate Summary". Western Regional Climate Center, Desert Research Institute. Retrieved May 5, 2015. 
  13. ^ "Annual Estimates of the Resident Population for Incorporated Places: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2014". Retrieved June 4, 2015. 
  14. ^ Texasalmanac (PDF; 1,2 MB). Retrieved 2013_08-01
  15. ^ a b c
  16. ^
  17. ^
  18. ^
  19. ^
  20. ^
  21. ^
  22. ^
  23. ^
  24. ^
  25. ^
  26. ^
  27. ^
  28. ^
  29. ^
  30. ^
  31. ^
  32. ^
  33. ^
  34. ^
  35. ^
  36. ^
  37. ^
  38. ^
  39. ^ a b
  40. ^
  41. ^
  42. ^
  43. ^
  44. ^
  45. ^
  46. ^ last name=Parisi|first name=Philip, title="The Texas Post Office Murals, Art for the People"|publisher=Texas A&M University Press|where=College Station, Texas|2004
  47. ^ "Trackdown". Classic TV Archives. Retrieved April 14, 2012. 
  48. ^ Billy Hathorn, "Roy Bean, Temple Houston, Bill Longley, Ranald Mackenzie, Buffalo Bill, Jr., and the Texas Rangers: Depictions of West Texans in Series Television, 1955 to 1967", West Texas Historical Review, Vol. 89 (2013), p. 105
  49. ^
  50. ^ Alpine, Texas Greyhound Lines
  51. ^

External links

  • City of Alpine
  • Alpine Official Visitors Info
  • Alpine Chamber of Commerce
  • Sul Ross State University
  • Alpine Area Parks
  • Alpine Avalanche, local newspaper since 1892
  • West Texas Weekly, local weekly newspaper
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