WEST OF THE PECOS
Hollywood might attempt to portray historic Pecos as a wild west community overrun by gunshot but this town was no less violent than most Texas settlements along the edge of the state’s western frontier. Gunfights, in Pecos and elsewhere, were de rigueur for the 1880s, an era replete with more weapons and alcohol than lawmen and lockups. Pecos’ real claim to fame is its rodeo, an equally rowdy affair (sans shootouts) complete with cowboy-pitching broncs and bull-dodging clowns. The “West of the Pecos” rodeo, an annual event held since its inception in 1883, celebrates the state’s favorite displays of cowboy (and cowgirl) prowess.
Pecos, the Reeves County seat, arose along the banks of the Pecos River, first as a camp for cattle drives and later as stop along the Texas and Pacific Railway. Today, the story of historic Pecos is detailed in the exhibits at the West of the Pecos Museum, housed in turn-of-the-century digs. Modern Pecos also enjoys a more pastoral character, brought on by the ranching industry and the production of the delicious Pecos cantaloupe, a seasonal fruit grown in irrigated fields across the region. The Pecos cantaloupe begins to show up in produce sections and fruit stands mid-July, gaining full ripeness and flavor just as the summer ends, providing an unforgettable sweet and salty finish to late August afternoons in the shade. The melon even has its own celebration, unsurprisingly called the annual Cantaloupe Festival that takes place in Pecos every summer.