Seat, West Texas
36 miles W of Kent
119 miles W of Ft.
119 miles E of El
74 miles NW of Marfa on US
161 miles SW of Odessa
Population: 2,056 (2010) 2,435 (2000)
so Healthy We Had to Shoot a Man to Start a Cemetery"
Van Horn was named after a Union Officer, while Culberson County was
named after a Confederate.
The above slogan had been suggested by a local rancher named Bill
Goynes. He was killed by his brother-in-law a short time later and
in fact became the first occupant of the cemetery. We are told it
was a dispute over water and had nothing to do with the need to start
a cemetery, although it might've given the community-minded brother-in-law
an extra incentive.
in a Pecan Shell
Our brief history of Van Horn begins with the discovery of Van
Horn Wells, south of town near the present
ghost town of Lobo. The credit of discovery goes to Jefferson
Van Horne (with an "e"), an Army Major who later commanded
Ft. Bliss. The town of Van Horn Wells was a stage stop on the San
Diego - San Antonio Mail Route.
During the Civil War, the wells were captured by Confederates.
The Union Officer in charge was James Judson Van Horn, who
was no relation at all to Major Jefferson Van Horne, other than
being brothers-in-arms. Some sources have him ranked a Lieutenant,
some as a Colonel.
In 1881 when the railroad (the Texas and Pacific) came through,
the town of Van Horn grew around the tracks and Van Horn Wells was
left where it was, providing water and later irrigating cotton fields
and vegetable crops. The railroad put in wells of their own and
1886 saw the post office established as well as the
town's first store. By 1890 the population was almost 500.
The new century was ushered in by the murder of the postmaster in
1900. The murderer had the dangerous-sounding name of "Red" Sealy.
The murderee was R.L. Hall, former rancher and storekeeper, turned
The very first Culberson County Sheriff was shot in 1914, in a gunfight.
The 1912 Courthouse was replaced in 1964 by a one story "modern"
The town got around to incorporating after the excitement of WWII
was over in 1945.
Tourism became an important industry in the 1930s with the opening
of nearby Carlsbad Caverns. Over 11,000 people pass through
Van Horn daily.
Horn Hotels >
Attractions and Nearby Destinations
County Historical Museum
Hotel, which now houses the Culberson County Historical
Museum started out as The Cox Building. In 1901 it
was an office building that had a pool hall/saloon added on in 1905
and even served as a courthouse before an official one could be
Mountains National Park
55 miles north on Hwy 54. The park contains Guadalupe Peak, the
highest elevation in Texas (8749 ft.)
Another 30 miles or so will bring you to the famous caverns, but
be warned, you'll be leaving Texas for most of the trip.
- A ghost town 12 miles south on US 90.
Horn Convention and Visitor's Bureau - 915-283-2682.
Van Horn Hotels
Culberson County Jail
In order to provide
local law enforcement in the wake of Mexican bandit attacks, Culberson
County was organized in 1911. The following year the county commissioners
accepted plans for construction of this red brick jail. Although prisoners
at times dug through the brick walls, the structure was used until
a new courthouse which included a jail was completed in 1964.
of Van Horn
wandering thru Van Horn on my way to New Mexico in 2006 and saw this
neat house and fence." - Sarah
Fried Chicken" - Restaurant sign in Van Horn
Photo courtesy Rob Hann, 2003
| Van Horn
Texas School House
I know of another one room Texas school house in existence. It is
in Culberson county, north of Van Horn. I know it exists, because
it was my childhood school house and my teachers have now converted
it into their home. It sits at the base of the Guadalupe Mtns. It
was in use until about 1988. - Erick Nance, December 08, 2010
Woman on a burro
I have enjoyed Jason
Penney's photos of far West Texas. My husband and I just returned
from our first trip out there. It was really quick. For some reason,
he got it in his head he wanted to go to Dell
City. But we had a few memorable moments, beginning in Van Horn.
I have a question for for someone who knows whom I would be asking
about. Perhaps you could direct me to more information about her.
We were privileged to get to see this woman riding through town
(Van Horn) perched atop a burdened, exhausted, heavily-laden, black
and white spotted burro late in the day last Wednesday. To see that
worn little burro with his little head nearly dragging the ground
was heart-wrenching. His rider wearing many clothes, topped off
with a dark brown fringed leather jacket, sat like a queen upon
a throne of layers and layers of blankets and maybe other clothing.
Her hat was pulled way down on her head so that we could really
only see her sun glasses. They walked at a snailís pace but rushed
a little to get underneath a tiny mesquite tree where they rested
in the sparse shade for a few minutes before resuming their trip.
It appears that she carried all her worldly goods on that little
burro. The temperature was at least 100 degrees. One of the locals
said she comes around now and then. She travels all over, from way
down in Big
Bend to El
Paso and all points in between. I didnít get a photo. I just
didnít feel right about it. Besides, we didnít know how to approach
her. But the way that poor little burro was bent over, it would
have been a perfect picture. Does someone know whom I am talking
about? I would appreciate URLs or directions to finding out more
about her. She must be a fascinating person! Thanks. - Linda
Lowe, Bedford, Texas, May 21, 2006, firstname.lastname@example.org
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
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