Erath County sits within Texas’ North Central Plains, a region of the state defined by the beauty of forested hills, vast stretches of agricultural land supporting farms and ranches, and plenty of historic small towns.
Primarily based on the city of Stephenville’s history, the county promotes itself by association as the “Cowboy Capital of the World” It’s also in a region where wildlife thrives, welcoming hunters and anglers, as well as hikers, bikers, campers and other lovers of outdoor recreation.
Let’s take a closer look at why so many visitors and residents alike enjoy the offerings and culture of Erath County and North Central Texas.
The heart of Erath County’s identity, like a lot of places in Texas, has always been ranching, farming, hunting and fishing. Going back centuries, the native Anadarko people taught the French, Spanish and Anglo-Saxons about the area’s agriculture long before it was settled in the 1850s. However, a key event in history occurred here about 20 years before then.
By some accounts, the Battle of the Alamo in early 1836 was the starting point for Erath County, as many of the surviving families made homes in this part of North-Central Texas. A man named John Stephen was granted much of the land that then became Stephenville, and he, along with other pioneers and his friend George Erath, officially established Erath County in 1856.
Stephenville became the county seat (remaining so to this day), and many smaller towns and communities popped up over the years to follow. This includes Dublin, billed as “The Irish Capital of Texas” supposedly after that “other” Dublin across the pond and the eventual Irish immigrant population here in Texas. Erath incorporated in 1889 and a train depot opened in nearby Mount Airy lead to a population boom.
Stephenville, Dublin and the many small communities of Erath County share important values such as education, nature conservation, community and legacy. And this is reflected among the attractions, local landmarks and various “things to do” in this region of Texas.
You’ll find students pursuing quality higher education at Tarleton State University within the Texas A&M University System. Around since 1899, the university also offers classes at online and satellite locations in Waco, Midlothian and Fort Worth. While known for its top teaching and non-land grant agriculture programs, Tarleton State also features an on-campus planetarium hosting regular events.
Those seeking a deep dive into Erath County’s history should visit the Stephenville Historical House Museum to see homes and buildings from a different era. In Dublin, top spots include the Ben Hogan Museum, honoring the legendary namesake pro golfer (he grew up here); the Dublin Rodeo Heritage Museum; and the Dublin Historical Museum.
The county also offers some tasty food and drink options, including Dublin Bottling Works, which once invented a cane-sugar only version of Dr. Pepper before lawsuits killed it. Fans of adult beverages shouldn’t miss The Sledge Distillery for its tours, tastings and special events. Lucky Vines Vineyard & Winery is another good place, while dedicated foodies may want to pair some homemade cheese with that wine by going to Veldhuizen Cheese. In Stephenville, check out the highly-rated Greer’s Ranch Café and also Hard Eight BBQ.
There’s more to do in Erath County and the surrounding areas than we can fit on this page (for example, music junkies will love Stephenville’s designation as the state’s sixth-ever Texas Music Friendly Community), but let’s not forget the adventures outdoors. Whether your aim is hunting, your angle is fishing or you’d rather ride the trails … recreation awaits in North Central Texas.
As the “Cowboy Capital of the World,” Stephenville stands out with its many ranches and equine facilities. The city’s rodeos are a fun way to discover the culture, and you’ll also find a slew of guest ranches and stables offering horseback riding and ranching experiences (check reviews on Yelp or Google for your options).
The Bosque River Trail in Stephenville offers a few miles for hiking and biking along the river bank in open and wooded areas, while the city’s Splashville is a unique water park (one of several parks here) with slides, waterfalls and more. And only 17 minutes from Dublin, you can fish for bass, crappie and catfish on the popular Proctor Lake.
But for a more adventurous experience, you’ll want to visit the region’s state parks. Over in Glen Rose, walk real dinosaur tracks along the Paluxy River, picnic or paddle the waters at Dinosaur Valley State Park. A little farther out at Meridian State Park you can hike, fish and camp in Texas Hill Country. And around an hour from Erath County, Cleburne State Park has the 116-acre spring-fed Cedar Lake, amazing trails and modern campsites.
For a quick afternoon outing outdoors, consider a springtime stroll through the 50-acre Clark Gardens in Weatherford. Or take the family to Fossil Rim Wildlife Center to see giraffes, cheetahs, zebras and other exotic animals up close and personal.
Sources: Tpwd.Texas.gov; StephenvilleTx.gov; VisitStephenville.com; Ci.Dublin.Tx.us; DublinTxChamber.com; StateParks.com; TexasEscapes.com; TexasAlmanac.com; TexasCounties.net; En.Wikipedia.org