BREWSTER COUNTY Travel & Relocation Guide
Big Bend National Park Alpine • Marathon Terlingua • Study Butte Lajitas
B rewster County is the largest county in
Texas , and one of the least populated . Its
6,100 square miles encompasses Big Bend National Park and part of Big Bend Ranch State Park . Brewster County has seen a parade of nomads and settlers across its harsh and mountainous
“ Largest county in Texas .” landscape stretching back more than 9,000 years .
Brewster County was created in 1887 and named for Henry P . Brewster , a lawyer , statesman and soldier who fought in the Texas Revolution and was a colonel in the Confederate Army . After the Civil War , he served as the Commissioner of Insurance , Statistics and History for the state .
Originally three counties were carved out from Presidio County in 1887 , but Buchel and Foley Counties were never organized and were absorbed by Brewster County in 1897 . The population of the vast area at that time was just over 1,000 people .
Around 1900 a boom in mercury mining began in the southern part of the county , increasing interest in the remote desert lands on the Rio Grande . By 1905 the mines around Terlingua were producing 20 percent of the country ’ s mercury . Other entrepreneurs developed industries in guayule rubber , candelilla wax and fluorspar , to add to the burgeoning cattle , sheep and goat industry that had flourished since the 1870s . The population rose to 2,300 in the last decade of the 19th century .
The 1,200 square miles of Big Bend National Park were originally set aside in 1934 as Texas Canyons State Park , and the Civilian Conservation Corps set out to build a road into the Chisos Basin . Residents of Brewster County pushed for the area to be designated as a National Park , and in 1944 Big Bend National Park was born .
As mining , military and cattle lost prominence in the 20th century , tourism rose as the main economic activity in the region . With the addition of Big Bend Ranch State Park in 1991 , more public lands drew more and more visitors to the small , widespread towns of Alpine , Marathon , Lajitas , Study Butte and Terlingua . With a population of just over 9,000 as of the 2020 census , the vast empty spaces and eclectic communities continue to be a source of fascination to visitors .