The Big Bend area has always been one of the most alluring places in the South. On one highway, a trio of towns-Marfa, Alpine, and Marathon-show that untamed geography stirs an inspiring spirit.
It’s hard to believe inspiration can come in so far-off and austere a place, but it’s all around you. Marfa, Alpine, and Marathon sit along U.S. 90 like hitching posts. On first glance, the three are all Mayberrys of another era. Marfa’s one blinking red light; the Alpine Dairy Queen and Big Bend Saddlery; Marathon’s three blocks of storefronts facing the railroad. But I visit in search of the defining quality that draws people 400 miles west of San Antonio to live and to visit. I’m looking for the real towns, what makes them so alluring and freeing, to “slow down and see,” as Camp describes. As one New York transplant to Marfa tells me, “Good things come with space.”
photo: Artist Mary Baxter