As the town
grew the residents petitioned for its name to be changed to Alpine, and on February 3, 1888, the name of the
local post office was officially changed. In 1888 a description of the town
mentioned a dozen houses, three saloons, a hotel and rooming house, a livery
stable, a butcher shop, and a drugstore, which also housed the post office.
Alpine grew very
slowly until 1921. Then came the opening of Sul Ross State Normal College (now Sul Ross State University) and the
construction of the first paved roads into the area. The college, along with
ranching and the transcontinental railroad, made Alpine the center of
activities in the Big Bend area of Texas. At this time city
utilities, including water, sewerage, and electricity, came to the community.
In the early 1940s, with the establishment of Big Bend National Park, Alpine came to be looked upon as the entrance to the park. Since the
early 1960s the rapid influx of affluent retired people into the area has
been an important factor in the town's continued growth.
listed as one of the fifty safest and most economical places for retirement
in the United States. It is often spoken
of as the "heart of the Big Bend," the
"Alps of Texas," "out where the West begins," and the
"economic, cultural, and recreational center for Trans-Pecos Texas." Alpine was
incorporated by 1929. The town is served by the Southern Pacific and South
Orient railroads, Amtrak, and several bus lines and is crossed by U.S.
highways 90 and 67 and State Highway 118. The Big Bend Telephone Company has
its headquarters in Alpine and serves customers who are not served by Southwestern Bell. In addition to the
facilities of three major petroleum companies Alpine has a number of
financial institutions and small businesses. The medical needs of the area
are met by Big Bend Regional Medical Center. The town has three
public schools and more than eighteen churches. Recreational facilities
include public parks, swimming pools, a golf course, tennis courts, and an
outdoor theater. Alpine also has a TV cable system, two radio stations, and
the campus communications program at Sul Ross.
The population was
estimated at 396 in 1904. By 1927 it had risen to 3,000. The 1950 census
reported Alpine's population at 5,256, but the 1960 census reported only 4,740
residents. A high of approximately 6,200 was reached by 1976. In 1980
residents numbered 5,465 and businesses 108. In 1990 the population was
Valerie Bluthardt, "Urban West Texas: Alpine," Fort
Concho Report 18 (Winter 1986-87). P. C. Burney, "Alpine, the Roof
Garden of Texas," Texas Magazine, March
1911. Clifford B. Casey, The Trans Pecos in Texas History (West Texas
Historical and Scientific Society Publication 5, 1933). Clifford B. Casey.