San Angelo



Located on the plains of western Texas, 230 mi/370 km southwest of Dallas and at the point where the branches of the Concho River come together, San Angelo has more water than most towns in this part of the state. In frontier times, the town grew up around Fort Concho, and the site of the fort is now preserved as a National Historic Landmark. Most of the fort's original buildings still stand, lining a large parade ground, and are open to visitors during regular hours. The fort had an interesting history: At one time it was a base for the 10th Cavalry, the African-American horse troops better known as the Buffalo Soldiers. The San Angelo Museum of Fine Arts used to be housed at Fort Concho but now inhabits a striking building nearby that looks somewhat like a giant covered wagon.

After U.S. soldiers helped secure the area, the land around San Angelo was settled by ranchers, but it retained some of its rougher edges. Cowpokes would flood into town looking for a good time, and they could find it in a number of bordellos, some of which operated well into the 20th century. Miss Hattie's Bordello Museum downtown lets you get a look at what one of the pleasure palaces looked like: It has been preserved more or less as it was on the day it went out of business.

Native American history is preserved in the pictographs on Paint Rock outside of town (tours available from the property owners). If you do any shopping, look for strands of Concho pearls, the unusual pink-purple jewels that come from a kind of freshwater mussel in the Concho River. If you enjoy a good steak, have one in San Angelo: This is cattle country, and there are several quality steak houses in town.

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