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 Texas : Towns A-Z / West Texas : Marathon

MARATHON, TEXAS

Brewster County's "Second City"
Buchel County Seat *, West Texas
Intersection of Hwys 90 and 385
31 miles E of Alpine
54 miles W of Sanderson

Population: about 800

Marathon, Texas Area Hotels
Alpine Hotels

Marathon is usually thought of as the entry to Big Bend National Park. It was named for its supposed resemblance to Marathon, Greece. It's possible, since we haven't visited Marathon, Greece for a comparison, but somehow we doubt it.
Marathon Tx Camp Pena Colorado Pond
Camp Pena Colorado Pond
Photo courtesy Barclay Gibson, June 2007
History in a Pecan Shell

The Halff Brothers of Alsace-Lorraine were Jewish merchants that eventually owned one million acres of land from San Antonio to Ft. Stockton. There were three, but one was drowned during a hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico. They operated the Circle Dot Ranch** near Marathon until they found out rustlers could easily burn over their brand. They rode on trail drives, but soon found they preferred leather in the form of banker's chairs and opened banks in San Antonio. One half of the Halff brothers, (Mayer) brought some of the first Hereford Cattle into the state.
**As a variation to the chicken/egg conundrum - TE asks which branding iron did they use first? Did they burn the dot in and try to put the circle around it, or did they have a contest to see who could put the dot in the circle?

Camp Pena Colorado

The Halff Brothers leased out the land for Camp Pena Colorado to the U.S. Army for 15 years, until the Indian threat dissolved. The camp was located about 4 miles southwest of Marathon. The camp was first occupied in 1879. It had water and was on the road connecting Ft. Clark and Ft. Davis, but was quite primitive. The coming of the railroad in 1882, improved things somewhat.

David St. Clair Combs, local rancher, donated the land for a public park in 1935. It's used by locals today and is barely known to visitors.

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Marathon Tx Camp Pena Colorado Pond
Camp Pena Colorado Pond
Photo courtesy Barclay Gibson, June 2007
Marathon Tx Camp Pena Colorado WPA plaque
Camp Pena Colorado WPA plaque
Photo courtesy Barclay Gibson, June 2007
Marathon Tx Camp Pena Colorado sign
Photo courtesy Barclay Gibson, June 2007

Marathon Today

Automatic cow , Marathon, West Texas
First there was the mechanical bull, now here's a cow with an odometer. Evidently this is a robotic cow used to practice roping without the ropee tiring.
Photo courtesy Barclay Gibson, June 2007
Marathon TX Schoolhouse
Photo courtesy Gerald Massey, May 2008
Marathon Schoolhouse
Texas Historical Landmark
Marathon Tx First United Methodist Church
First United Methodist Church
Photo courtesy Barclay Gibson, June 2007
Marathon Tx St Marys Catholic
St. Mary's Catholic Church
Photo courtesy Barclay Gibson, June 2007
More Texas Churches
Marathon Tx Former Brewster County Jail
Former Brewster County Jail
Photo courtesy Barclay Gibson, June 2007
More Texas Jails
Marathon Tx Ghost Prices Milk Sign
Photo courtesy Barclay Gibson, June 2007
More Ghost Signs
Marathon Texas railroad water tower
The foundation of the old railroad water tower
Photo courtesy Barclay Gibson, June 2007
Marathon Tx Former Tourist Court
Former Tourist Court
Photo courtesy Barclay Gibson, June 2007
More Rooms with a Past
Marathon, Texas Gage Hotel
The Gage Hotel
Recorded Texas Historic Landmark
On US 90 & Avenue C
Photo courtesy Barclay Gibson, June 2007
The Gage Hotel
Historic Register Property - most visible landmark in Marathon.

According to Docia Schultz Williams, the Gage has at least 3 resident spooks. Ask for room 10 if you want to be a believer.

The Gage was designed by Architects Trost and Trost who also built El Paisano in Marfa and El Capitan in Van Horn. All three were built in 1926. The builder of the Gage died one year after its completion. The Gage Hotel Chef is featured (as well as three of his recipies) in the book Top Texas Chefs' Favorite Recipes by Ginnie Siena Bivona and Sharry Buckner, Republic of Texas Press, 1999.
Historical Marker Text

Gage Hotel

This brick hotel building, designed by the El Paso firm of Trost and Trost, was constructed in 1926-27 for Vermont native Alfred S. Gage. A cattleman, Gage founded the largest ranching operation in the Trans-Pecos, consisting of over 600 sections of land. After moving to San Antonio, where he became a successful besinessman and banker, the hotel served as his Marathon residence and as the headquarters for his local cattle and banking interests.

Recorded Texas Historic Landmark - 1981
Marathon Texas Forum
My grandmother taught in marathon in the early 1900's. - R. Goemaat, December 10, 2003

*Buchel County was one of the "Ghost Counties" of Texas. That is, a county that was planned, but was never incorporated for one reason or another (low population was most often a factor). Marathon had been designated the county seat of Buchel County, but Buchel was later made part of Brewster County in 1897. Our thanks to Tom Wancho of the State Capitol Visitor's Center for his information on "Ghost Counties."
Marathon Nearby Destinations
  • Black Gap Wildlife Management Area: 55 miles south via 385 and RM 2627
  • Marathon Texas
    Area Destinations:

    Alpine
    Sanderson
    Where to Stay:
    Alpine Hotels
    More Hotels

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