Day Trips: Freedom Monument, Rowena: Celebrate Your Freedom to Drink at This Unique Monument – Columns


Photos by Gerald E. McLeod

The monument of freedom in Rowena protests against the loss of personal freedom when County of Runnels dried up in 1911, almost eight years before the Prohibition.

German and Czech farmers in the south of the county had succeeded in repelling attempts to ban the sale of alcohol. The change came when an increase in the number of residents in total teeing overwhelmed them with 331 votes.

In protest, farmers buried a bottle of whiskey and a bottle of beer in downtown Rowena. Above the tomb of libations, they placed a tombstone with the phrase: “Here lies our freedom, April 28, 1911.”

It wasn’t long before a thirsty thirst unearthed the bottles instead of traveling the 30 miles south across the county border to the saloons of Saint angel.

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

Driving three and a half hours from Austin to pay homage to this modest monument and its grand feeling can be a little crazy, but the drive is well worth it when combined with a visit to Brewing toad in heat, the only craft brewery in the county.

Opposite the monument, the brewery offers an assortment of delicious beers on Saturdays only, with live music on the second Saturday of the month. Immigrant farmers would be proud.

The Liberty Monument is next to the Edward Street and Mary Street Fire Station. Rowena is also the birthplace of Bonnie parker the fame of Bonnie and Clyde, and Steak House Lowake, legendary since 1951, serves Horny Toad beer.

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