"The land was never the same, for in one generation of settlement much of the Trans-Pecos was turned into was-land by over-grazing of livestock."
The Trans-Pecos of Texas is the more than thirty thousand square miles of land west of Pecos River. The terrain varies widely from desert floor to mountain peaks. Ot was once almost humid and contained many woodland ares, and until fairly recent it was covered with luxuriant short grasses.
Today the upper reaches of the Chihuahuan Desert has claimed much of the Trans-Pecos, and dessert scrub has replaced the grasslands. Still there are thousands of square miles of grass and there are forests on and in the canyons of the many important mountain ranges. The Trans Pecos is bound by two rivers, the Pecos and the Rio Grande, and by the New Mexico Border.
The first white man to enter the Trans Pecos was Cabeza de Vaca in 1535. The Spanish marked the are on their maps as El Desplobado and avoided it, while the Apache, and later Comanche Indians, riled the land for three hundred years.
Until the late 1800's the Pecos River was a formidable barrier to westward expansion. In the early 1880's, the railroad pushed through and built a high bridge over the Pecos. The land was never the same, for in one generation of settlement much of the Trans-Pecos was turned into was-land by over-grazing of livestock.
One real character who followed the construction crews of the Sunset Railroad as they build west was Roy Bean who established a "refreshment" stop at Langtry. With the help of the Texas Rangers he became Justice of the Peace, and was known from then on as Judge Roy Bean.
There are many replicas of this building across Texas and in other states as well but this is the real thing right here in Langtry, Texas. By order of the Legislature, the Jersey Lilly still stands - the original building on the original site.
Judge Roy Bean held court in this saloon-courtroom in the late 1800's and his strange brand of justice made him a legend in his own time. He created the Law West of the Pecos - a true pice of the Great American West.
Judge Bean was fascinated by the English actress Lillie Langtry, known as the "Jersey Lily", and named his place after her. A sign painter misspelled "Lilly" but it has never been corrected. Judge Bean never met his idol, though she did visit Langtry in 1904 a few months after his death. Railroad records show that Langtry was named for a construction foreman, but folks still like to believe it was named for Miss Lillie.
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