Day Trips: The Liberty Monument, Rowena

Celebrate your freedom to drink at this unique monument


Photos by Gerald E. McLeod

The Liberty Monument in Rowena protests the loss of personal freedom when Runnels County went dry in 1911, nearly eight years before national Prohibition.

The German and Czech farmers in the southern portion of the county had managed to hold off attempts to outlaw alcohol sales. The change came when an increase in teetotalling residents overwhelmed them by 331 votes.


In protest, the farmers buried a bottle of whiskey and a bottle of beer in downtown Rowena. Over the grave of the libations, they placed a headstone with the phrase: "Here lies our liberty, April 28, 1911."

It wasn't long before some thirsty sot dug up the bottles instead of driving the 30 miles south across the county line to the saloons in San Angelo.

Then to add insult to injury someone stole the headstone. Disgusted by the affront, the community of 466 bought another monument. This one is a gray granite obelisk about 4 feet tall flanked by a time capsule and anchored in a large concrete pad.


Driving three-and-a-half hours from Austin to pay homage to this modest monument and its grand sentiment may be a little crazy, but the drive becomes entirely worthwhile when combined with a visit to Horny Toad Brewing, the county's only craft brewery.

Across the street from the monument, the brewery offers an assortment of delicious brews on Saturdays only, with live music on the second Saturday of the month. The immigrant farmers would be proud.

The Liberty Monument is next the fire station at Edward and Mary streets. Rowena is also the birthplace of Bonnie Parker of Bonnie and Clyde fame, and Lowake Steak House, legendary since 1951, serves Horny Toad beer.


1,574th in a series. Follow “Day Trips & Beyond,” a travel blog, at austinchronicle.com/daily/travel.

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

Liberty Monument, Rowena, Runnels County, Prohibition, Horny Toad Brewing, Bonnie Parker, Lowake Steak House

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