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)
Texas Water Canal - early 1900s
Photo courtesy texasoldphotos.com
| 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.
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
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.
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.
of the accommodations at Balmorhea State Park
TE photo, 1999
Solomon Springs in Balmorhea State Park
The reason to stop at Balmorhea
TE photo, 1999
Balmorhea water tower
Photo courtesy James Feagin, 2000-2002
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
The world Championship Frijole Cookoff is in Balmorhea in August,
an uniquely Texas event. See "Moore
© John Troesser
The naming of Balmorhea
your efforts to bring the name of the town of Balmorhea to the attention
of (hopefully) worldwide readers.Subject:
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
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
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
in its purpose to preserve historic, endangered and vanishing Texas,
asks that anyone wishing to share their local history and vintage/historic
photos, please contact