I arrived in Eagle Pass late in the afternoon of Saturday, April 26. The town of about 28,000 people is on the Rio Grande River, opposite Piedra Negras, Coahuila, a city of about 150,000. I immediately liked this place. The low hill surrounding the river valley were a welcome relief from the relentless mesquite and cactus prairie found just outside the river's reach. Maverick County has a two courthouses near the center of Eagle Pass: an historic building and a not so historic building. Guess which one is which.
After a wonderful dinner at La Parrilla de San Miguel in Eagle Pass I slept soundly at the Holiday Inn Express.
With my Texas county list now at 199, I began my long drive home to Houston on Sunday morning. The forecast was for hot temperatures and high winds. So, I filled up my Ford Focus from Enterprise rentals and headed east, to Crystal City, home of Popeye!
On my trip home I would re-visit 6 county seats: Crystal City, seat of Zavala County was first. It's courthouse is still one of the most difficult to photograph. Long, low and repetitive, with deep roof overhangs; it's not going to win any prizes.
Moving on, I drove south about 12 miles to the seat of Dimmit County, Carrizo Springs. Just south of Crystal City I crossed the bridge over Turkey Creek.
The Dimmit County courthouse is still diminutive and the front is still obscured by trees. And, yes, that's my Ford Focus rental car in the picture. Not my favorite vehicle to drive, but it did get very good gas mileage. It averaged 36 mpg over two days.
As the temperature began to climb into the high 90's I drove east, dodging oil field trucks, to Cotulla, seat of La Salle County. This was my third visit to Cotulla. Previous trips in 2009 and 2011 had yielded photographs of the historic courthouse undergoing restoration. Now, finally, the work is finished. Wow! The courthouse is amazing. It sparkles!
Funny, as I was filing my photographs from this trip I noticed that all three of my visits to Cotulla have been on the 27th day of the month. That's remarkable and completely unplanned. Unfortunately, Chuck's Bar and Dance Hall wasn't open for Sunday brunch. Next time. (on the 27th, of course)
Getting on I-35 north, I cruised along to Pearsall, seat of Frio County. Sadly, the Frio County courthouse is just as, well, sad, as the first time I stopped by in 2009. It really needs help. Although it does have shiny new downspouts.
The temperature was now at 100 degrees so I stopped by Garcia's Bar & Grill in downtown Pearsall for a delicious TexMex lunch. Next stop was Atascosa County. As I passed through Jourdanton I captured a few more views of the courthouse.
Last stop before Houston: Wilson County. The historic courthouse in Floresville has been closed for a couple of years. It's suffering from severe structural problems, beginning with the foundation. Read about it here:
August 4, 2013 -- the last day I'd visited and photographed a new Texas county. Finally, after 8 long months I was back on the courthouse trail. I began my two day trip in San Antonio. The weather was overcast and cool as I drove west from the Alamo City on US Highway 90. Today, Saturday, April 26, I would visit the last two county seats on US 90: Brackettville, in Kinney County and Del Rio, in Val Verde County.
US 90 enters Texas on the east at Orange County and continues west across the Lone Star State for exactly 607.861 miles according to TXDOT. This important east-west highway parallels the Southern Pacific Railway's "Sunset Line" connecting New Orleans with Los Angeles. I had previously visited Orange, Beaumont, Liberty, Houston (my home), Columbus, Seguin, San Antonio, Hondo, Uvalde, Sanderson, Alpine, Marfa and Van Horn, where Highway 90 ends, sort of in the middle of nowhere. Each of these 13 cities and towns are county seats located on US 90. Now it was time for me to see the last two.
But first, a stop in Uvalde, number 20 on my list. I'd been here early on in my project, on August 27, 2009. It was now time to take additional photographs of the Uvalde County courthouse and its surroundings.
Since it was Saturday, the courthouse was closed. However, as luck would have it, the county clerk, Ms. Ramona Esquivel Hobbs, and her husband arrived just as I was preparing to leave. They graciously invited me in for a quick tour of the courthouse. It was a wonderful opportunity, and I didn't hesitate to accept their invitation. Ms. Hobbs has been searching the county's historic document files and organizing this treasure trove of Texas history. I was able to photograph some sample documents, including a letter from 1900, written on elaborate Uvalde County letterhead.
As I left, Ms. Hobbs suggested I stop by the county's new event center and arena, located on the west side of town, on the south side of Highway 90. Here's a photograph of the buildings. The event center is on the right.
Leaving Uvalde, I drove west on US 90 and soon entered Kinney County. Brackettville, a small town in the center of the county is the seat. The historic courthouse, located on a rise in the center of town, while in good shape, is in need of a restoration.
As I walked around town, I began to notice an unusual number of German sports cars parked on the streets. Most of them were Porsches; some very nice cars! Apparently, a sports car club had stopped here for lunch during a Saturday outing. Too bad I'd left my Audi TT Roadster at home in Houston! Otherwise, I would have joined them.
The sun was finally beginning to burn through the low clouds as I left Brackettville and headed down US 90 for Del Rio. The Val Verde County line is on Sycamore Creek, which, like so many in Texas these days in a dry riverbed.
Del Rio, Texas is a busy city, located on the Rio Grande River. This is the last major town on the Rio Grande until you reach El Paso, hundreds of miles to the west. There's a large US Air Force pilot training installation, Laughlin AFB, on the east side of town. To the west, on US 90 is vast Lake Amistad on the Rio Grande. The historic Val Verde County courthouse has been restored. There's an adjacent courthouse annex on the square and the county has converted the former Federal Building into a court building.
Having now visited all 15 county seats on US Highway 90, I turned south and east and drove and followed the Rio Grande to Eagle Pass, seat of Maverick County. Below is a photograph of pecan orchards along the highway.
Leonard G. Lane, Jr., AIA