No one knows exactly how the tradition of paving the 50-meter-long by 2-meters-across alley with metal caps began, but seeing as it is located between the iconic Dry Bean pub and the Dixie Chicken restaurant, some people believe that it started out as a dumping site for the two establishments.
Patrons who took their drinks outside followed their example, and as word of the Bottle Cap Alley spread, other local bars started bringing in their nightly haul of bottle caps here as well. It is estimated that the tradition goes back four decades.
Bottle Cap Alley was officially recognized as a local attraction in the early 2000s, when local authorities recognized its potential as a place of interest for tourists. They installed a large sign over it, added lights so it could be visited at night and began promoting it as a part of the local sightseeing tour. The move didn’t sit well with many “Aggies” (A&M students and graduates), who accused officials of Disney-fying their decades-old tradition, but it did turn the once obscure alley into a popular roadside tourist attraction.
In its heyday, most of the pavement for Bottle Cape Alley was provided by Dixie Chicken and Dry Beam, but Atlas Obscura reports that neighborhood establishments no longer contribute too much to its preservation. They don’t sell as many beer bottles as they used to and have become more environmentally conscious. But the unique alley still has a special place in the hearts of A&M students, many of whom save their bottle caps and bring them here by the thousands, to keep Bottle Cap Alley alive.
Several Texas businesses have also contributed to the preservation of Bottle Cap Alley over the years, with the latest being the Shiner Beer Company, which unloaded a whopping 380,000 beer bottle caps there, last month.
At one point, some people noticed that most of the hundreds of thousands (possibly millions) of beer bottle caps all came from American brands, and made it a point to add a variety of caps from imported beers as well, turning the place into an international bottle cap gallery. Unfortunately, that made Bottle Cap Alley all the more appealing to bottle cap collectors.
Bottle Cap Alley is a gold mine for people who collect bottle caps, and it has been reported that some collectors travel to College Station from far away for the specific purpose of finding rare caps for their collections. Taking one or two caps may not seem like a big deal, but considering that average visitors often take a few as souvenirs, it’s easy to see why constant bottle cap contributions are vital to the preservation of Bottle Cap Alley.
According to odditycentral