The San Antonio-El Paso Road (not to be confused with the Old San Antonio Road) was developed in the 1840s to move settlers from the eastern Texas into West Texas. The road passed several towns with established military forts on its way from San Antonio to El Paso. Eventually there were 2 routes identified: one upper, and one lower. Sutton County is located on the lower route of the San Antonio-El Paso Road.
Fort towns along this route included Fort Lancaster, Fort Hudson, Fort Clark, Fort Davis, Fort Terret (near Sonora), and Fort Bliss. Those towns should sound pretty familiar to anyone who has explored much around West Texas.
More than just a road for settlers moving west, when gold was discovered in California, the San Antonio-El Paso Road became a primary route for would-be gold hunters to make their way to the California gold fields.
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This road was so well-known and well-defended that the Butterfield Overland Mail used the lower route as its regular mail route heading west.
Over half a century later, travelers were still following the San-Antonio-El Paso Road, but this time on automobiles. Several segments of the Old Spanish Trail Auto Route (established in 1916) coincide with the route of the 1840s San Antonio-El Paso Road. One of those segments is here outside of Sonora.
As a commemoration of the Centennial of Texas statehood, the Texas State Highway department commissioned pink granite blocks with bronze plates on top and bronze medallions on the front. 254 of these markers were designated county markers, and contained short facts about the organization dates, namesakes, and sometimes important events that took place in each county. One of these category of markers was placed in each Texas county, either at the county line, at the county courthouse, or in the newly-conceived roadside parks (we know them today as rest areas).
The Sutton County marker was placed along the 1930s alignment of the Old Spanish Trail Auto Route about 4 miles east of Sonora. Every traveler along the OST who passed by here would have seen this distinctive block of pink granite with the Centennial bronze logo in the center, and perhaps they stopped to discover that they were rolling over an even older route.
The historic marker reads as follows:
Has traces of culture at least 20,000 years old, occupied by Apache Indians up to founding of Fort Terrett, 1852. Anglo-Texan settlement began 1879 at Sonora, a trading post on San Antonio-El Paso Road.
Created April 1, 1887, from land then in Crockett County; organized November 4, 1890, with Sonora as the county seat.
Named in honor of John S. Sutton (1821-1862), a member of Santa Fe Expedition, Texas Ranger and Indian fighter, soldier in Mexican War and colonel of Mounted Volunteers, who died of wounds received in Civil War Battle of Val Verde. 1965"