Old Jail Art Museum

 Court House

Aztec Theater

A jewel of a town square and art museum at the old jail. Accessible collection of authentic pioneer dwellings, tools and equipment including processing pots from the old Ledbetter's Salt Works.

The following road trip article is from the web site, Great American Trails Company.

February 27, 2001

The people of Albany have created a vibrant, optimistic, growing local economy that has discovered one eternal truth: the best way to look forward is to look back on the past, and to focus on what brought human inhabitants here to begin with–in short, to look back to the land. Albany is well-provided for in this regard. Shackelford County is home to several ranches that easily exceed or even double the 20,000-acre mark, and it is the birthplace of a man who grew to typify the best things about the west, a man whose presence still resonates three years after his untimely death at the youth of 98. Spanning the last century, Watt Matthews spoke for the value of persistence, for the value of intelligent and progressive range management, for the value of long-term profit over short-term gain, and for the value of people.

Albany is a charming, charming town, and not in that slicked-over, professionally marketed manner so familiar to anyone who’s been sentenced to do time in Sedona or Jackson Hole. The town storefronts have adopted a common style and design. There was no federal grant, no grass-roots movement to make the town look a certain way, and no complex set of sign ordinances that forced the resistant to comply. People in Albany were simply proud of their town, and reached into their own hip pockets to make that pride a visual, tangible thing.

Tradition and local pride, then, belong deep down into the grain of Albany. Unsurprisingly, the banner that faltered with the passing of Watt Matthews has been picked up and placed at the vanguard, where it properly belongs, by the people who own and operate Stasney’s Cook Ranch. No place in Texas better typifies the progression of virgin range to longhorn range to fenced range to oil fortune and onwards to nature tourism.

Nature tourism? The owners have skillfully pointed the vast ranch onto a course that utilizes considerable natural resources for a multiplicity of purposes. Hunting, of course, is one. The new twist, however, focuses on birding, wildlife watching and photography, as well as mountain biking. With strikingly memorable nesting species such as Painted Bunting and Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, a host of resident and seasonal sparrows, creeks and stock tanks that provide critical water resources for migrants and insect life, your visit to the ranch will more than satisfy an appetite for proximity with nature.

In addition to wildlife tours that provide numerous encounters with the mammals common to this part of Texas, photographic blinds on the property also let viewers get close enough to obtain full-frame, magazine-quality images of the wildlife. You’ll have the choice of a comfortable stay in the spacious ranch lodge or the choice of a commodious cabin with handicapped access and room interiors.

Bringing nature tourism and its adherents into the strongholds of Texas ranch country is hardly as radical as it sounds. The concerns of responsible hunters–that healthy wildlife requires healthy habitat–works hand in glove with the concerns of nature enthusiasts.