Bowie is in southwestern Montague County and is the largest city in the county. When the railroad built through the area in 1882, local settlers moved to the site of the construction camps and businesses appeared in canvas tents. A townsite was laid out and residents applied for a post office to be named for James Bowie. In 1867, Montague County was the last Texas county crossed by traildrivers heading to the Chisholm Trail and north to cattle markets.
Today the city serves as a retail shopping center. Industry, ranching, agriculture, oil and retail trade form a diversified base for its economy. Antiques, collectibles, gift shops, tearooms, homestyle cooking, bed and breakfasts and more.
Annual celebrations include the Fantasy of Lights Parade in December, Jim Bowie Days in the summer, and Chicken and Bread Days Heritage Festival in the fall. Bowie has been designated a Texas Main Street City.