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    LANGTRY, TEXAS

    The Ghost Town with a Visitor's Center

    Val Verde County, West Texas

    Hwy 90
    50 miles W of Del Rio
    99 miles SW of Ozona
    70 miles E of Sanderson
    155 miles E of Alpine
    135 miles SE of Fort Stockton

    Population 30 Est. (2000)

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    Langtry TX 1930 - Alma Alston, Jersey Lilly Saloon
    Alma Alston in front of The Jersey Lilly Saloon in 1930
    Photo courtesy Colin Patterson

    Langtry Texas Topics of Interest:

  • Visitor Center
  • Naming of Langtry
  • Judge Roy Bean
  • Langtry Today
  • Langtry Area Destinations
  • Scenic Overlook and Bridges over the River Pecos next page

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  • Judge Roy Bean Visitor Center (915-291-3340) is open daily, except major holidays. The sign says 8:00 to 5:00, and they opened at 7:59 the day of our visit. Well done, Langtry Visitor's Center!

    The Jersey Lilly Saloon / Courtroom adjoins the Visitor's Center. "Plain and weathered" would describe the building. It's the "before" photograph in a before-and-after deck stain commercial.
    Jersey Lilly Saloon, Langtry, Texas
    The Jersey Lilly Saloon and Judge Roy Bean's courtroom - built on the railroad right of way.
    Postcard courtesy www.rootsweb.com/ %7Etxpstcrd/
    Law West of the Pecos, Langtry, Texas
    "Law West of The Pecos, Langtry, Texas"
    The Jersey Lilly on a linen postcard, circa 1940s

    Courtesy www.rootsweb.com/ %7Etxpstcrd/

    Playhouse on the Pecos

    Like Bean, the saloon wasn't pretty, but it was colorful. Besides his duties as Law-West-of-the-Pecos, Roy Bean was also a director - using a cast of characters recruited from Langtry's human resources. One day you might be in the audience; another day you might be in the cast. One day a defendant - next day a jurist. But one thing never changed - Roy Bean was in charge. If it wasn't for his wry sense of humor, he might've made a good dictator.

    Of course the humor depended on if it was you or someone else on trial. The law depended on which side of the Pecos and the Westside was Roy Bean Territory.

    Langtry TX Street Scene
    Langtry Street Scene
    Photo courtesy Bryan D Reynolds, April 2010

    The Naming of Langtry

    The town dates to 1881 when a silver spike was driven by the railroad commemorating the completion of the line. Among the people fighting for the spike after the ceremony was the Honorable Judge Roy Bean.

    Most of the town's inhabitants moved from the village of Vinegarroon that was located at the juncture of the Rio Grande and Pecos Rivers. The name comes from a local arachnid more commonly known as a "whip-tail scorpion" that emits a vinegary smell when you squash it while putting on your boots. A 19th century print of a vinegarroon is in the visitor's center - and even as an arachnid - it's uglier than most.

    Langtry was probably named after a civil engineer working for the railroad, but the story that people would rather believe is that Roy Bean had a schoolboy crush on Miss Lillie Langtry and named it in her honor.

    Speaking of honor, Bean's title of "Judge" was a little inflated. He was a Justice of the Peace and even that is debated. He may just have just been an extroverted notary public. In addition to his duties as "judge" he was also coroner for the railroad.

    Most of the land in town belonged to a Mr. Torres who operated a store and restaurant - Bean sort of squatted on the railroad right-of-way. Torres was a patient and pacific man and gave Bean a wide berth - perhaps in deference to Bean's authority.

    Judge Roy Bean
    The Roy half of the Brothers Frijoles
    (Roy with beard next to cyclist)

    Old postcard
    On Judge Roy Bean:

  • Ten Things You Should Know About Judge Roy Bean by John Troesser
  • Ten More Things You Should Know About Judge Roy Bean by John Troesser
    The Jersey Lilly: Where 'sidebar' has a very literal meaning
  • Roy Bean Before His Law West Of The Pecos Days by Lois Zook Wauson
  • “Law West Of The Pecos” by Murray Montgomery
  • July 25, 1882 Cartoon by Roger T. Moore
  • Langtry TX - Jersey Lilly Saloon
    The Jersey Lilly Saloon
    Photo courtesy Bryan D Reynolds, 2007
    Langtry TX Collapsed Building
    Photo courtesy Bryan D Reynolds, April 2010
    Langtry Today
    The Visitor's Center at Langtry has many displays of Beanabilia, including his pistol/gavel (with appropriately cracked butt) which came to be owned by Ms. Langtry herself. The "Jersey Lily" couldn't think of a way to include it in her act and so she donated it to the town. She was well aware she was supposedly the town's namesake - for Roy had been sending her fan letters for years. She couldn't find room in her schedule to visit the town, and when her train finally did pull into Langtry - Bean was dead.

    The town today offers some interesting photo opportunities, particularly early morning. East of the visitor's center is the Langtry Baptist Church, still in use two Sundays a month. The land immediately south of 90 at the eastern entrance to town was formerly a tourist camp and the variety of cacti specimens scattered on the rocky slopes of the canyon is amazing. Also visible are the limestone bridge supports for the old railroad route. Watch out for vinegarroons.

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    Langtry, Texas, cactus and old farm house
    Sunrise at Langtry
    TE photo, 2000
    Nearby Destinations
  • Seminole Canyon State Historical Park
  • Scenic Overlook and Bridges over the River Pecos
  • Mile Creek Canyon, Langtry, Texas'
    "Sunset Route, Mile Creek Canyon.
    Crossed Three Miles East of Langtry, Texas"

    1907 postcard courtesy www.rootsweb.com/ %7Etxpstcrd/
    Crossing Pecos River on US 90 near Langty Texas
    Crossing Pecos River on US90 near Langtry
    Photo courtesy Barclay Gibson, June 2004
    Langtry Texas Forum
  • Subject: Langtry, Texas
    My parents & grandparents ran the old Mobil station/cafe/truck stop (now called the "Langtry Depot"), from 1957-71. At that time, there were around 40-50 residents. My younger brother and I both grew up there and attended the elementary school, that at that time, had grades 1-4 in one room, and grades 5-8 in another. We knew Vashti Skiles very well, her son Jack who back then ran the Roy Bean visitor's center in the late `60s, and her whole family there in Langtry for many years--she was in fact my first teacher. Like a lot of other kids at the time, I also later on rode the school bus 60 miles round trip every day to attend high school over in Comstock until I graduated in 1970. I remember Marsha Askins always had the longest trip--about 100 miles each way daily. We were also well acquainted with many of the ranchers from around the surrounding area for miles around, since we all went to school with their children, as well as being granted permission from the landowners to do some hunting & fishing on several of the ranches around there on both the Pecos and Rio Grande rivers. - Alan R. Taylor, November 20, 2012


  • Subject: 1930 Photo of my mother at the Judge Roy Bean House on her way (by car) to California
    I found this old photo of my mother after she graduated from Baylor and took a trip with one of her fellow graduates to California, They stopped in Langtry and her friend took my mother's picture in front of Judge Roy Bean's place. The sign behind my mother's right shoulder says Property of Texas Highway Dept. The place was fenced off from the public and the roof had big gaps in the shingles. It wasn't kept up at all in 1930. My mother's name at the time was Alma Alston. She was born in Troup Texas in 1904. - Colin Patterson, October 20, 2012

  • Subject: Thank You
    I just Google'd Langtry, Tx and had the pleasure to find your website. I cannot tell you how much I enjoy your work. We are winter Texans and enjoy the great state of Texas and your website has just made it a lot easier to decide where to make our stops. We are currently staying at Del Rio and exploring Lake Amistad, I love old westerns and was excited to see how close we were to Langtry. We are making a day trip to the town today and your website has helped me, I know where to go and what to see. Again Thank you for your great work. - Joe and Donna Carpentier, January 15, 2008

  • Subject: Langtry, Texas
    Dear TE, I stumbled upon your magazine and found it interesting. My family has roots in Langtry, Texas and my grandparents worked on the Hamilton Ranch in Pumpville, Texas in the 1920's. My grandparents owned and operated a Texaco gas station on Hwy. 90 W with six motel rooms in the 1930's-1940's. The family moved to Del Rio, Texas in approximately 1947 but granddad still ran the gas station while grandma and kids attended school and ran another business in Del Rio.

    The Langtry schoolhouse is now closed and the children now attend classes in Comstock, which is about 28 miles east of Langtry. The Schoolhouse is now named "Vashti Skiles Community Center" after my great-aunt, who taught school there for many years. The Community Center is used for many things now, such as The Water Board meetings, monthly town meetings, Bible Study, birthday parties, funeral services and an annual "Old Settlers' Reunion" held in each April. The average attendance for this reunion is about 130 people who travel from all over to attend the weekend festivities and visit with family and old friends.

    I believe there are [currently] only 14-15 residents of Langtry but there are a lot of visitors daily and people in the surrounding area drive to Langtry for their mail, to visit friends and attend a church service every other weekend at the Baptist Church. The last I heard, a visiting pastor or lay leader came to perform the service from Comstock. I have attended several services there with my family over the last several years. If anyone has any history, information, etc. on this area to share, I would be happy to hear from you. - Daina Skiles Schwartz, San Angelo, Texas, dainaschwartz@wcc.net, June 27, 2007

  • I'm one of Pumpville's former residents. In 1963, I was 9 years old and was in 3rd grade. My family got stuck in Pumpville and the three kids were bussed to a two-room schoolhouse in Langtry. ...

    ... When visiting Pumpville in 2000, the general store looked like a tornado had hit it. I explored a bit and saw evidence of where the phone company and post office had been. The trailer was gone, but lo...the church had been totally remodeled, a surprise since there seemed to be nobody in the area to attend it. I'm guessing people living in nearby Langtry, a small town with a LOT of history, notably the "Jersey Lilly" saloon and more in the fantastic tourist information center, would likely be attendees. In 2002, it was in similar condition.

    Incidentally, the old two-room schoolhouse in Langtry was still standing in 2002, but was closed down. I'm sure nothing has changed. I even saw the old merry-go-round in the former playground. Amazing. - Gil Davis, May 31, 2004

  • "You must talk about the extensive desert garden exhibit at the Langtry Visitor's Center - it's a shame you left this part out - its the best part! and the inside interactive exhibit is superb!" - Debra l. Beene, Archaeologist, Texas Historical Commission, October 13, 2000
  • Langtry Texas old grocery store
    The old Torres Grocery Store which has since collapsed

    TE photo, 2000
    Val Verde County Texas 1907 vintage postal map

    1907 Val Verde County postal map showing Langtry,
    Pumpville, Shumla, Comstock and Del Rio

    Courtesy Texas General Land Office

    Texas Escapes, 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 us.

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    Langtry Texas Area Destinations:
    Del Rio
    Ozona
    Sanderson
    Alpine
    Fort Stockton
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