An abundance of water, grass, and firewood made the site of Alpine, Texas (population 6,500), a popular camping spot for prehistoric visitors, explorers, and caravans regularly traveling from Mexico to Missouri as early as 1839.
Following the end of the Mexican War in 1848, military engineers mapped out routes here for a transcontinental railroad, and the California gold rush resulted in the migration of many gold seekers through the area.
Fort Davis was established in 1854, abandoned during the Civil War, and reopened in 1865 to protect settlers and travelers from Indian raids. By the early 1880s, the Southern Pacific railroad was completed and cattle ranchers and mineral prospectors were established in the area.
The small settlement, originally registered as Murphyville, became the county seat of newly created Brewster County and incorporated as Alpine in 1888. Despite several major fires, the town repeatedly rebuilt around the railroad tracks.
Alpine has a Main Street program that assists with façade improvements in the historic downtown. Walking and driving tours of historic Alpine are available as a brochure and on the Web.
Some historic highlights are a classic 1947 baseball stadium, buildings built by the Civilian Conservation Corps during the Depression, a 1930s motor court, the 1928 Granada Theater. Historic hotels, homes, commercial buildings, churches and schools surround the circa-1946 railroad depot.
Alpine is home to the Museum of the Big Bend, collecting and exhibiting artifacts of the entire region, inhabited by four distinct cultures—Native American, Spanish, Mexican, and Anglo-American—over 11,000 years. Alpine holds an annual Gallery Night downtown, including a 1907 home recently rehabbed as the Ashby and Allison Fine Art Gallery.
Designated a Preserve America Community in August 2004.