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Fort Stockton, Texas - Page 2

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The city of Fort Stockton, like other frontier towns of Texas, would not be immune violence. In 1889, in walked a newcomer  who would make quite a name for himself over the next several years. Andrew Jackson Royal, most often called A.J., moved his family to Pecos County after he was reportedly accused of a murder in Junction, Texas. Establishing a ranch and running the Gray Mule Saloon, Royal was said to have killed one of his employees after they had gotten into a dispute.


Despite a reputation as a quick-tempered, quarrelsome, and intimidating man, he was elected as Pecos County Sheriff in 1892. During his two-year tenure, Royal, along with infamous deputy, Barney Riggs, aggressively intimidated citizens of the community and as his re-election neared in the fall of 1894, an all-out war almost began between political rivals. Royal lost re-election in October and was assassinated a few weeks later. However, his deputy, Riggs stayed in the area, killing two men in Pecos in 1896, before, he, in turn was killed by a family member in 1902. 


Gray Mule Saloon, Fort Stockton, Texas, Kathy Weiser-Alexander 2011

A.J. Royal once ran the Gray Mule Saloon, which still stands in

 Fort Stockton today.  Photo by Kathy Weiser-Alexander, 2011.




However, by the turn of the century, the town had mostly settled down and the population was increasing due to cattle and sheep ranching. 1926, the opening of the nearby Yates Oil Field brought on an economic boom for not only Fort Stockton, but also a number of area towns.


In 1936, a county bathhouse, a swimming pool, and pavilion were constructed at Comanche Springs by the Works Progress Administration (WPA). However, by 1861, the springs had ceased flowing due to irrigation and numerous wells having been dug in the area. Today, the spring flows only intermittently.  A historic marker designates the site. The park is located southwest of the historic fort.


Tourism and new discoveries of petroleum and natural gas helped the economy in the area in the 1950’s and 1960’s. In 1952 the largest gas field in the county was opened on the M.C. Puckett and Son Ranch, south of Fort Stockton. Tourism was boosted in 1956, when construction of U.S. 290 linked Fort Stockton to the Big Bend National Park.


In the 1980s the economy of Pecos County continued to be based on farming, ranching, oil and gas production, and tourism and the town was called home to almost 9,000 people.


Today, Fort Stockton continues to be the county seat of Pecos County, though, because of the decline in oil production, its population has dropped to about 7,800 people.


Fort Stockton Texas Road Runner/Paisano Pete

Photo by Kathy Weiser-Alexander, 2011.


At the historic fort, only four the original buildings remain, which include three of the eight Officers' Quarters and the guard house. However, several other buildings have been rebuilt, and site also includes enlisted men's barracks, officer’s row, and a museum and visitor's center. Listed on the National Register of Historic Sites, the fort is located on the east side of town at 301 East 3rd Street.


The city has a number of historic sites and a driving tour guides visitors to 16 points of interest which includes the Historic District; the Annie Riggs Museum, housed in a turn-of-the-century adobe hotel; the 1912 Pecos County Courthouse, 1883 Jail, the old fort cemetery, and more. Be sure to stop at the world’s largest roadrunner -- Paisano Pete, a 22 foot long statue located on Main Street, for a great photo opportunity.


More Information:


Fort Stockton Chamber of Commerce

1000 Railroad Avenue
P O Box C
Fort Stockton, Texas 79735



Historic Fort Stockton
300 East Third Street
Fort Stockton, Texas 79735



© Kathy Weiser/Legends of America, January, 2011.


Officers Row, Fort Stockton. Photo by Kathy Weiser-Alexander, 2011.

Officers Row, Fort Stockton. Photo by Kathy Weiser-Alexander, 2011.


Youngs Store, Fort Stockton. Photo by Kathy Weiser-Alexander, 2011.

Youngs Store, Fort Stockton. Photo by Kathy Weiser-Alexander, 2011.



Also See:

A.J. Royal - One Bad Pecos County Sheriff

Texas Forts Trail

Texas Forts of the Old West

Pecos Heritage Trail

Forts Across America

Texas Forts Photo Print Gallery

Texas (main page)


Fort Stockton Guard House. Photo by Kathy Weiser-Alexander, 2011.

Fort Stockton Guard House. Photo by Kathy Weiser-Alexander, 2011.


Old Jail in Fort Stockton. Photo by Kathy Weiser-Alexander, 2011.

Old Jail in Fort Stockton. Photo by Kathy Weiser-Alexander, 2011.


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