‘You can’t buy beer in Utopia’

Utopia 1There is a Utopia in Texas. And it’s not Austin, as some might argue.
The real Utopia is a town of about 250 people in the heart of the Texas Hill County, where I and two friends spent the past three days cycling, hiking and generally exploring one of the most beautiful parts of the state.
According to The Handbook of Texas Online, the Sabinal River valley around what is now Utopia was settled in the 1850s shortly after Texas became a state in 1845. The town was earlier called Montana, according to an 1884 survey of the area filed in Uvalde County. But “when they learned that another place in Texas was named Montana, residents renamed the place Utopia,” says the Handbook of Texas. In 1886, Andrew Jackson Sowell, his wife, Mary Lillian, and 10 other charter members established the Utopia Missionary Baptist Church.
Utopia hasn’t grown much since those early days, and perhaps that’s a good thing. It’s within 20 miles of both Garner State Park, on the Frio River to the southwest, and the Lost Maples State Natural Area, on the Sabinal River near Vanderpool about 10 miles north of Utopia. At night, the sky glows in the southeast, apparently the lights of San Antonio. Will condos soon sprout on the Sabinal?
utopia 2Just south of Vanderpool on the way to Utopia on Ranch Road 187 is a sign declaring that that section of the road is cared for by the Lost Maples Sheep Dip Philosophers and Whittlers Association. On the approach to Utopia, a cyclist sees a sign: “Utopia: A paradise. Let’s keep it nice.”
It is nice, and very pretty. I guess part of keeping Utopia nice is a prohibition on the sale of alcohol. Precinct 3, in northern Uvalde County where Utopia is located, is dry, as we discovered when we checked in with the company that manages the vacation cabin where we stayed. We asked the proprietor where we might replenish our stock of beverages.
“You can’t buy beer in Utopia,” he said.
I reckon every Utopia has at least one thing wrong with it.


1 Comment

Filed under Americana, Texana

One response to “‘You can’t buy beer in Utopia’

  1. zack

    Say Jim, planning any more short excursions before the big one? I’d love to go, as I’m stepping up my biking for the first time – biked 22-24 miles roundtrip the other day, on the streets no less (surely nothing to you, but that’s probably only the second time in my life I’ve ever done anything that long), visiting a friend out in east Fort Worth, and am borrowing Jer’s blue single-speed now – and to get some more camping experience in, should I participate in some trail building later this year with some folks from Austin. Well, keep me posted…

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