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    DELL CITY, TEXAS

    Hudspeth County, West Texas
    FM 1437 off US 180
    92 miles E of El Paso via US 180
    90 miles NW of Van Horn via Hwy 54
    65 miles N of Sierra Blanca via FM 1111
    105 miles to Carlsbad Caverns

    Population: 413 (2000) 569 (1990)

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    Texas state line
    Texas state Line
    Photo Courtesy Jason Penney

    Thanks to Jason Penney, we have more photos of Dell City than the Handbook of Texas has text. According to the Handbook of Texas Online, the town was started "sometime before 1949 when a post office was established there."

    Dell City Namesake - (See Forum below)

    The population was a little less than 200 in the early 50s, and peaked just short of 1000 in the early 60s. An estimated 40,000 acres are irrigated and onions, tomatoes and cotton were the principal crops.

    We called the Dell City Chamber of Commerce and spoke to Gene Lutrick, the President of the chamber and a man who holds numerous other positions vital to the city. Mr. Lutrick has been in Dell City since 1950 when he moved from Abernathy (Lubbock County). He was kind enough to fill in a few blanks for us

    Dell City Texas billboard
    The Dell City Billboard,
    A Classic from the Golden Age of Community Billboards
    Photo Courtesy Jason Penney
    "The Farmer in the Dell"

    First of all, Mr. Lutrick is a little more accurate about the date. 1947 is the year that men came looking for oil and discovered the underground water. Developers from Austin and Midland immediately got busy promoting the town.

    When we asked who Mr. Dell might have been, Mr. Lutrick asked if we were familiar with the nursery song "The Farmer in the Dell". There was no Mr. Dell - it's Dell as in "a small, secluded, usually forested valley." Just forget the part about the forest.

    One would think that Michael Dell of Austin would open an office here, at the very least a small one to receive mail or to have outgoing items postmarked Dell City.
    The pound in Dell City Texas
    The Dell City Animal Control Shelter
    Photo Courtesy Jason Penney
    Early Days in Dell City

    Eager to put the water to use, the developers planted 200 acres of cotton. This was great news for the local rabbits who ate all but 14 acres of it. The uneaten cotton produced 21/2 bales per acre, and farmers started planting alfalfa to keep the rabbits occupied. Today, in addition to the onions and tomatoes previously mentioned, chili peppers are also grown and a vineyard sends sweet grapes to Lubbock.

    Reports on wildlife include abundant deer and antelope. We asked Mr. Lutrick about buffalo (roaming or otherwise) and he said that there were none in Dell City. He did say that he has, on occasion, heard a discouraging word. We didn't ask what it was. Local sheep ranchers reduce the coyote population by hunting them from helicopters and a recent hunt killed 40 in just two days. One entrance to the Guadalupe Mountain National Park has been closed due to numerous sightings of mountain lions.


    Schooling:

    The first school in Dell City was a trailer beside the First Baptist Church and there were only four or five children according to Mr. Lutrick. He said that at one time there were close to 400. Today there are around 200 students and some are bussed in from New Mexico. The state of New Mexico pays the school district, which you have to admit is a pretty sensible arrangement for all concerned.
    west Texas ruin
    West Texas View from Orange, New Mexico
    Photo Courtesy Jason Penney

    Orange, New Mexico is just across the state line and TxDoT hasn't given Dell City one of those fancy granite state silhouettes like they have when you enter Texas on major highways. Although Orange is a ghost town now, it used to be a stagecoach stop on the Butterfield Stage Line. We are sorry to report that the ruins of the actual stagecoach building have been bulldozed long ago.

    Dell City Texas jail
    The Jail in Dell City dates from the 1940s
    Photo Courtesy Jason Penney
    Small Town Newspaper

    Dell City has its own weekly newspaper. It's the Hudspeth County Herald and Dell Valley Review. There are also 2 groceries, two cafes and two Hudspeth County Deputies who keep law and order.

    We called the newspaper and Mary Louise Lynch, the editor returned our call and gave us a few more interesting facts on the town. She has been printing the newspaper for 35 years and the Review absorbed the Herald sometime in the 60s.

    Ms. Lynch comes from California, but has been in Dell City from the very beginning. She remembers when the first residents lived in tents and (correctly) points out that Dell Citizens were Texas' last pioneers. The alfalfa that was meant to distract the rabbits from the cotton is now a major crop and cotton is long gone. Mary Louise thinks that the nearby Delaware Mountains may have had some bearing on the town's name.

    She reported that the El Capitan Theater closed in the 60s and that for some time it was used as a residence. A fire destroyed the town's major grocery and the proprietors retired rather than rebuild. Most Dell Citizens make grocery trips to El Paso. She's seen one or two dogs in the pound in the last three or four years and can't remember the last time the jail had an inmate.

    Dell City's crisis now is more threatening than rabbits. It's a familiar problem with small West Texas towns having their groundwater literally drilled out from under them and sold to overpopulated and always thirsty El Paso.

    Dell City local and tourist information:
    City Hall 915-964-2344
    Chamber of Commerce: 915-964-2424

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    Dell City Texas fire enging
    Vintage Fire Equipment in Dell City
    Photo Courtesy Jason Penney

    Dell City Texas Forum

  • Subject: Dell City Namesake
    I now reside in New Mexico but grew up in Texas and still have a lot of relatives in Texas. One story I remember when I was maybe 7 years old was that Dell City, Texas was named after my uncle Joyce Ardell (Dell) Donathan whom I believe worked in the post office there from 1947-1954. Sadly he passed away in 2005 at the age of 85. He last lived in Wildorado, Texas where his widow still resides. This morning I ran across his obituary from Amarillo.com and wanted to share the information from it and his family explaining that Dell City was named after him. It would be nice if he could be credited for the naming of Dell City if in fact it was named after him. I have no way of proving it but I do believe that this is factual information. Following is an excerpt from the obituary.

    It's the 6th Obituary on this page: http://amarillo.com/stories/112505/obi_3328584.shtml

    "WILDORADO - Joyce Ardell Donathan, 85, died Tuesday, Nov. 22, 2005.

    "Ardell" or "Dell," as many knew him, was born in Floydada to Frank and Elizabeth Donathan... He worked at the smelter in Amarillo until he was drafted into the service in 1943. He served in the Far East Air Force in Guam, The Philippines, Layte, and Luzon before returning from service in 1946. He then farmed in the Plainview area until settling east of El Paso. As one of the first "homesteaders" in the area, the town of Dell City was named after him. In 1954 he moved back to Amarillo and worked for the Post Office and farmed. In 1961 Ardell, Berniece, Delores and Kenny moved to Wildorado to farm.

    In 1972 he was appointed Postmaster at Vega where he retired in 1984..."


    Maybe some old timer from that area and time will run across the story and possibly recall knowing my uncle and how the town was named. Being named after a nursery rhyme just doesn't make sense.
    - REV, August 31, 2011

  • Subject: Dell City Texas
    Hello I have a few pictures but they don't show anything in particular but us kids living in Dell City Texas and going to the Guadalupe Mountains in the summer when my parents could afford it.

    Hi-my name is Belia Padilla. Our family lived in Dell City Texas until about 1975 or so when we moved away to the Texas Panhandle. My father farmed 5 miles out of Dell City (Bailey Farm-yellow house) grew alfalfa, corn and raised Angus cattle for Mr. Bailey out of El Paso Texas. I remember the Dell City Mercantile Store owned by the McCoys.

    As I read up on Dell City it took me back and I remember a Gene Lutrick as a young child living in the outskirts of town on the way to the catholic church (don't know if it's the same person) and the Lynchs who lived in a big and beautiful house with peacocks running around on a hill in Dell City. What I do remember is Mr. Lusk the school principal (got one spanking from Mr. Lusk) and Betty Snodgrass the school secretary. I used to clean house for the Snodgrasses.

    I have been curious all these years as to how Dell City is doing? Are there people living there and if so how many? I don't know if anyone will read this or not but I sure would appreciate an update on good old Dell City. - Belia Padilla, April 19, 2006

  • Subject: Dell City STONE Land developer

    I may be the only person alive today that helped clear the first rangeland near the location where Dell City is today.

    In 1946 a group of Lynn county farmers went to Salt Flats to grub out the Mesquite trees and turn this ranch land into farming land. Thad Smith and his brother Ores Smith. Thad Smith owned the Hd 14 Alas Chambers Crawler that the grubbing ploy was mounted on. The two drivers of this rig were Harley Smith, and JB Williams. Harley and JB were brother in laws, Vera Harley's wife also lived at the camp or near by, they slept in their 40 model Ford. Camp was a little shotgun one room house that most of us slept and eat in, everyone had his army cot and a change of clothes.

    I remember the old Cafe. I think it was sort of a cafeteria style back then. We had been home for a few days and were returning to camp and back to our jobs and we would always stop at Salt Flats and have apple pie and coffee. On this trip JB and his sister Vera had brought along their (Getair) and Mandolin, and they played on and on and on, everyone would holler one more time. Pilipino Baby.

    To get to the place where we camped we would turn north just east of the Salt Flat Cafe and down a cow trail road through I think seven gates, I know I got smarter as I would always try to set in the middle so I wouldn't have to open those gates, I was just a boy at the time, my job was burning the brush that my dad and uncle raked up into big piles. With a big rake they had invented and welded with our little farm welder and hauled all the way over to Salt Flat on a bob tail truck.

    The first crop that was planted was Alfa, it didn't turn out very well because they had the land in borders, and were going to use flood irrigation like they use to do over in the Hondo valley, well the water wouldn't flow the way it was supposed to and Mr. Stone, the big boss decided to level it after it had been planted so all of the Alfa ended up at one end of the field.

    The thing I remember most is how that dirt would make my hair stand straight up and my mom would say I looked like I had been plugged into a light socket, I was 14 years at the time. I worked through the summer and up into the fall then had to go back home and go to school, we were always late getting into school as we would have to pull cotton to pay for shoes and a coat to wear to school, that was the good old days.

    There was a government trapper working that area back then and he would stop by our camp every time he was in that area and I would get to go with him and help him run his trap line. Coyotes and Bob cats was what he would catch most of the time. When the rabbits ate up the cotton I'm sure there were folks that would have liked to have had the Coyotes and Bob cats back.

    Dad and I, along with my wife and son and my mother drove over to Dell City in 1958 just to see the town and to look around some and we felt kind proud that we had a little part in making that happen, we were the first ones to acutely start the farms. They pumped the first water into reservoirs and that was part of my job at times to watch for Gopher holes in the dam's, it would wash out in a short time and no way you could stop it once it got ahead of you and that shovel.

    I have rambled on more than I should have but when I saw your story and how you had opened the old Cafe up again it brought back lots of memories, and all the folks that I went out there with are all gone on but they are the ones that got it all started. Thanks for listening I would like to do it all over again. - Glen Lowe, Lubbock, TX, August 08, 2005

    Our sincere thanks to Mr. Gene Lutrick and Mary Louise Lynch for their candid, entertaining and informative telephone interviews. We look forward to including more about Dell City in the future and hope that you'll visit Dell City and make it part of your next West Texas itinerary. - Editor
  • Texas Escapes, in its purpose to preserve historic, endangered and vanishing Texas, asks that anyone wishing to share their local history, stories, and vintage/historic/contemporary photos of their town, please contact us.

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