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ALPINE CREEK

ALPINE CREEK. Alpine Creek rises three-quarters of a mile south of Ranger Peak near Alpine (at 30°17' N, 103°43' W) in northwestern Brewster County and flows northeast for twenty-three miles to its mouth on Musquiz Creek, a half mile below the crossing of the Santa Fe tracks over the latter stream (at 30°31' N, 103°34' W). Alpine Creek runs through Alpine and across a broad, open valley surrounded by rugged mountains and mesas. Its last six miles, beginning about six miles northeast of Alpine, was formerly known as Paisano Creek. The area has attracted human habitation for thousands of years, as artifacts attest. In historical times various trails into Mexico all crossed the area. Explorers in the valley were singularly impressed by the deep grasses, abundant wildlife, and flowing water. As early as 1682, Juan Domínguez de Mendoza described the valley as "for miles . . . covered with grass that looked like a field of waving grain." When Maj. W. H. Emory entered the valley through Paisano Pass in 1852, he found it "watered by a limpid stream from crystalline rocks, clothed with luxuriant grass, sufficient to feed a million of cattle." By the late 1870s stockmen had begun moving into the area, and in 1882 the Southern Pacific was built across Alpine Creek. The town grew around the crossing. Heavy grazing eliminated most of the deep grasses described in earlier accounts, and Alpine Creek became a dry wash. In some areas along the course of the creek, the former grassland has been invaded by desert scrub. For the most part, however, the area still supports grasses typical of semiarid climates, such as various gramas and tobosa grass, though much less abundant than was once the case.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: 
Clifford B. Casey, Alpine, Texas, Then and Now (Seagraves, Texas: Pioneer, 1981).

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Handbook of Texas Online, "Alpine Creek," accessed September 28, 2016, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/rba32.

Uploaded on June 9, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.