Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Judge Roy Bean, Langtry, Texas

The Judge Roy Bean Visitor Center in Langtry, Texas, not only dispenses travel information, but also supplies a healthy interpretation of the career of the legendary "Law West of the Pecos." Six dioramas tell Judge Bean's story, and the TxDOT maintains the historic site where he handed down his unique brand of justice, including the rustic saloon/courtroom, billiard hall, and the judge's "opera house," which was actually his home. The tour is free.
It all began when there was a need for local law enforcement in the area of Pecos County where the Southern Railroad was being built. The railroad camps were a source of trouble. The nearest Court of Justice was in Fort Stockton 200 miles away. The solution was to appoint a saloon keeper, Roy Bean, as Justice of the Peace.
Criminals were tried on the front porch of the saloon, which Bean named "The Jersey Lilly," after the famous English actress he admired, Lillie Langtry. 

The original Jersey Lilly burned in 1897.
It was replaced by this building which is still being preserved behind the Visitor Center. 
A portrait of Judge Roy Bean.
Inside the saloon where Judge Roy Bean dispensed hard liquor and harsh justice. Notice the portrait of the actress Lillie Langtry. Although really named for a railroad executive, Bean wrote to the actress and told her the town was named after her, in hopes she would visit.

Gun rack? made with horseshoes.

Lillie Langtry finally agreed to come to visit the town, however she didn't make it there until 1904, several months after Bean's death.
The Billiard Hall adjacent to the saloon. On the right are the original legs of the billiard table. This was also the room where Judge Roy Bean died in 1903.
Judge Roy Bean only used one law book, rejecting all newer ones sent to him.
The Judge's 1879 law book.
The museum contains several artifacts from Bean's career, like this "confiscated" revolver.  

Judge Roy bean's house was built behind the saloon. He called it an Opera House in hopes of enticing Lillie Langtry to come and perform there.

Also on the property is a Cactus Garden with an interpretive trail. Yucca, prickly pears, agaves, saguaro and more are labeled. The windmill is a rare 10-foot model P Eclipse Windmill sold in 1900 by Fairbanks, Morse and Company.
Judge Roy Bean Visitor Center is well worth a visit, and RVs are allowed to camp free in the parking area. There is also free Wifi.

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