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  Texas : Towns A-Z / West Texas : Balmorhea

BALMORHEA, TEXAS

Reeves County, West Texas
Just south of I-10 on Hwy 17
4 miles N of Toyahvale
37 miles N of Ft. Davis
39 miles S of Pecos
47 miles W of Fort Stockton
71 miles E of Van Horn
Population: about 750

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Balmorhea water canal early 1900s old photo
Balmorhea, Texas Water Canal - early 1900s
Photo courtesy texasoldphotos.com
 
The town dates from 1906 when someone figured out that the water from San Solomon Springs was flowing faster than they could drink it. The unusual name is an amalgam of letters from the names of the land developers Balcome, Moore and Rhea. (See e-mail from Mr. Balcome's descendent)
Balmorhea , Texas water tower

Balmorhea water tower

Photo courtesy James Feagin, 2000-2002
Today the water is still flowing at an estimated rate of 24 million gallons per day. The cool, clean water flows right down the main street before it's channeled into the fields on both sides of I-10. Nearby Balmorhea Lake holds the water until it's released for irrigation.
Water flowing fhrough Balmorhea
If you needed to put an oasis in West Texas (and wanted to be fair about it) Balmorhea sits right where you'd choose. It's between Van Horn and Ft. Stockton, Pecos and Fort Davis.

The town itself is a nice place to pull off the highway and rest. The water flowing alongside the road comes as a pleasant surprise.
Follow the water south a few miles until you get to Balmorhea State Park in Toyahvale.

The park is one of Texas' most under-appreciated and under-used parks in the entire system. Yes, it's a little out of the way; but once you visit, the drive will never seem that long again.

Balmorhea State Park > next page

Balmorhea State Park accommodations
Part of the accommodations at Balmorhea State Park

TE photo, 1999
Balmorhea State Park pool
San Solomon Springs in Balmorhea State Park

The reason to stop at Balmorhea

TE photo, 1999
The population in the 1930s had been as high as 1,200 people. It lost nearly half of its population from 1968 to 1988 and the 1990 census shows 765 people.

The world Championship Frijole Cookoff is in Balmorhea in August, an uniquely Texas event. See "Moore Texas" Cartoon

John Troesser

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Balmorhea Texas Forum

  • Subject: The naming of Balmorhea
  • I appreciate your efforts to bring the name of the town of Balmorhea to the attention of (hopefully) worldwide readers.

    My great-grandfather spelled his name Balcome, not Balcum. I'm assured by my father that this was possibly the only thing he consistently spelled with precisely the same letters in the exact same order and that his facilities with punctuation that often left the readers of documents he composed a bit perplexed.

    My grandmother, Thelma Balcome, born in 1900, moved to the area with her father a little before the town was platted, and was there for the birth of her sister, Imogene Balcome, in either 1905 or 1906, (I forget the exact year and Dad gets cranky when I call him after eight in the evening these days,... Okay, he gets even more cranky than he usually is.) Oh, and Mr. Moore, according to what I've been told is actually Mr. Morrow.

    According to my father, the name of the town was suggested during a dispute between my great-grandfather, Mr. Morrow and the Rhea brother's by the conductor of the train they were riding on. What little I know of my ancestor and those that joined with him in the venture is indicative that certainly none of them possessed such creativity.

    Another fun aspect of the development of the region is that the four men had a Stanley Steamer. People arriving in the newly platted township were hustled into this car and whizzed out to view the acreage that the "realtors" thought they would be interested in at the speed of sixty miles per hour. Sixty miles per hour, at the time, was the speed of the very fastest of trains in a time when horses were still the preferred mode of transportation for most of the populace of the state. If you've been there, then you know that there isn't much in the way of scenery to have gone whizzing past the windows of the old Steamer on those dirt roads. Car travel was considered to be rough and unreliable, surely those riding in the agent's Steamer enjoyed the novelty without realizing the speeds that it encountered on the way to their prospective homes. There are few trees at best and at the time, there were surely very few fence posts lining the roads. I'm told many people agreed to buy their homesteads with the great promise of being within only an hour's travel from town, not realizing that it would take a horse and buckboard a full day to reach the distance to the closest supplies.

    I've traveled through many of little towns that dot Texas, some so small you'd miss them if you blinked while the cruise control was set at speeds that protected your sanity while crossing West Texas. I'm glad to have found your site and be able to stop, (Dad never did,) at some of those interesting little map dots and learn a little more. - Sincerely, Luke Bradley, November 16, 2004

  • Subject: Toyahvale
    The town of Balmorhea is four miles east of Toyahvale where the Balmorhea State Park is located. Toyahvale is the historic center of this desert oasis and was founded approximately forty years prior to Balmorhea. Unfortunately because San Solomon Springs is located within the boundaries of Balmorhea State Park, historic Toyahvale more often than not goes unmentioned. ... - Neta & Darrel Rhyne, June 09, 2002

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    This page last modified: June 4, 2007