16 ALPINE - Heart of the Big Bend
Continued from page 14 .
Sul Ross State Normal College was founded in Alpine in 1921 . Around this time , paved roads came to the region and Alpine swelled . Sul Ross , originally a teachers ’ college , was named for Lawrence Sullivan Ross , a Confederate States Army general during the Civil War . Ross was the 19th governor of Texas whose family founded the town of Waco . He became the president of the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas , now Texas A & M , and is credited with saving the school from closure . After his death , the Texas State Legislature dedicated Sul Ross Normal College in his honor .
As a major shipping point for cattle , products from the mines at Terlingua and other valuable products like candelilla wax and mohair , Alpine became the center of activity for much of the region . The town ’ s population grew to 3,000 by 1927 , and it was incorporated in 1929 .
The mining boom in Terlingua prompted the construction of the Holland Hotel in 1928 by local rancher J . R . Holland . Designed by Henry Trost , it retains its original frontier splendor . Trost , an acclaimed El Paso architect , designed a trail of hotels throughout West Texas , in Marathon , Alpine , Marfa and Van Horn .
From its humble beginnings as a cluster of tents to its current status as the center of activity in the Big Bend region , much of Alpine history has been preserved rather than written over . The Museum of the Big Bend at Sul Ross State University provides insight into the prehistoric past and glimpses of the future , passing through all of Alpine ’ s eras in between . As a major entry point to Big Bend National Park and Big Bend Ranch State Park , much of Alpine ’ s economy is supported by the tourist industry , though as the county seat the economy is diversifi ed by government , law enforcement and the University . As of the 2020 census the population is 5,905 , roughly the same as it was in the 1970s .