If you love unusual roadside attractions, natural springs, scenic beauty and Wild West lore, the West Central Texas town of Fort Stockton should be at the top of your travel itinerary.
Established as an 1859 military outpost, the town’s rich and colorful heritage includes such memorable characters as “Paisano Pete”, “Sheriff A.J Royal” and “Annie Riggs.”
Despite being dethroned of his title, “Paisano Pete” is a bit of a celebrity in the ranching industry driven, “Big Bend” town. He even starred in a 2010 “South by Southwest Film Festival” documentary by filmmaker Amy C. Elliot that premiered in Austin, Texas in March 2010.
For those that do not know of this huge roadside star, “Paisano Pete” is a 22 foot long and 11 foot tall statue of a roadrunner that serves as a silent sentinel over Fort Stockton’s Main Street.
“Paisano Pete” was considered to be the world’s largest roadrunner. That is until a young upstart in Las Cruces, New Mexico usurped Pete’s “world’s largest” title.
Unlike Pete, the Las Cruces roadrunner is made entirely of scrap metal and castaway items such as worn out sneakers. Battle weary from facing the elements and scraggly in form, he stands 20 feet tall but is reputedly 50 feet long. Hence why some say that the Las Cruces road runner is now the world’s largest.
Pete on the other hand, is a more handsome and well-seasoned fellow. Travelers to the town can visit with Pete anytime throughout the year and snap a few photos of the occasion.
U.S. 290 and Main Street
Fort Stockton, TX 79735
Annie Riggs Memorial Museum
Annie Riggs was the owner of an 1899 hotel that was a favored stop along the stage coach routes of the day.
The hotel is now a 14 room museum that contains a variety of unusual exhibits and early West Texas relics including the 1902 ballot box that had to be fished out of the Pecos River after a particularly contentious election.
The “Annie Riggs Memorial Museum” also contains the desk of one of the more nefarious characters of Fort Stockton, Sherriff Royal.
Generally despised and considered to be of poor moral character, Royal was sitting at his desk in 1848 when he was assassinated by an unknown assailant or assailants. Royal’s killer or killers were never found and he was laid to rest in the “Old Fort Cemetery” located on Water and 8th Street.
The “Annie Riggs Memorial Museum” is open year round with extended hours offered during the summer.
Presently the museum is on winter hours, which means that it is open Monday through Saturday from 9:00 am until 5:00 pm. Hours of operation as well as admission fees are subject to change without notice, so would-be visitors would be wise to call in advance of their trip to verify all details.
Annie Riggs Museum
301 South Main Street
Fort Stockton, TX 79735
There are plenty more things to do and see in the historic West Central Texas town of Fort Stockton such as the “Tunis Stagecoach Stop”, “Imperial Reservoir”, “Historic 1858 Fort Stockton” and the “Courthouse Square.”
Those wishing to learn more about the region should log onto the state’s tourism website.