History in a Pecan
for Rock House, this ghost town is a bit of an anomaly. It appears prominently
on the Official State Highway Map for 2000, but yet there is no road leading to
it. The 1998 County Maps of Texas by the same Department of Transportation do
not show Casa Piedras, even though the county maps are traditionally more detailed.
According to the Handbook of Texas Online, "a winding unpaved road
leads there from Plata, ten miles to
the North." Plata doesn't show on either the state or county map of Presidio
County. Assuming that such a place exists, we'll tell you roughly what the Handbook
of Texas Online says about Casa Piedra.
A man by the name of Domenicio
Mata built a rock house there in 1883. Something must've been happening there
for by the year 1900 there were about 50 families in residence. A school was started
in 1906 and a woman by the name of Lucia Hernandez Russell is given credit for
its founding. The Russell and the Vasquez families made up nearly
the entire population.
The town throve until the early 30s when they
got hit with a double whammy of drought AND depression. The railroad (Santa Fe)
came in 1930 which was just in time to make it easier for the town folk to leave.
By 1933 there were only 10 residents left and most of them were probably seriously
They closed the post office in 1953 and the only
store closed in 1957. In 1968 there was a reported population of 21 people who
all found something better to do than sit around and play dominos in Casa Piedra.
Direction to Casa Piedra
Casa Piedra in
went to school where one very sweet teacher taught all the grades. I don’t recall
her name. The children were supplied cans of peanut butter to spread on tortillas
they brought from home. Evaporated can milk was mixed and passed around to all,
My sister and I carried sack lunches and traded our sandwiches
and fresh fruit for some of their peanut butter and milk.
We played school
yard games, “Tag” and “Red Rover Come Over” during recess. We learned some Spanish
and they learned some English. They were the best mannered children and made us
welcomed there. We were sad to leave.
I can’t recall any buildings but
the school. We rode in a pickup truck with two little girls from Plata.
Their father, named Gus, was a section hand for the Santa Fe Railroad. Our father
knew him and his family. We, four girls, were the only children there and so glad
to be friends. All told, Gus and his wife were the parents of nineteen children,
some already grown.
We spent a good Christmas there. We shared Mother
baked cake to trade for squash and vegetables from Gus and his family. Daddy was
a hunter and fisherman. He always shared his bounty with his neighbors. We were
monetarily poor, but so rich in the things that count."
on a West Texas Paint Train in the 1940s by the Hall Sisters
courtesy Ron Duckworth, 2002
to Casa PiedraPlata,
Texas is at the south end of ranch road 169, south of Marfa.
Rand McNally U.S. Road Atlas, West Texas map, shows Casa Piedra on a
dirt road south of road 169 that continues onto the "River Road" just east of
Page 114 of "The
Roads of Texas", Shearer publications, locates both towns and the roads and
the ex Santa Fe (now South Orient) Railroad. By the way we understand the rail
line is now being rehabilitated and a couple of months ago the rails looked as
though a train or two had passed.
Also AAA Texas maps show Casa Piedra
and connecting roads. - Dale Gunnar, January 21, 2002
I lived in Casa piedra with my greatgrandmother Lucia Hernandez Russell in the
1950s. After my mother died my father, sister and me moved to live with my grandmother
to help care for us. I have very special memories of my years there. - Rosemary
Doncaster Fierro, June 16, 2013
there! There are plenty of the Russell and Vasquez family still around. There
was a family reunion in Marfa
not too long ago and we were well represented. I spent many a summer on the ranch
with my grandmother. The museum is in the old post office and has some interesting
artifacts of the families in the area. I'll send more information as I dig it
up. - Joe Lopez, AKA Pepper Russell, June 08, 2006
son and I visited both Plata and Casa
Piedra in June, 2001. They both are way away from anywhere. The road is mostly
graded dirt and now continues beyond Casa Piedra all the way to Presidio.
Only ruins remain of Plata. It is well
worth a look-see. There is a historical marker there to explain the history.
Casa Piedra is an oasis worth the stop. There is only one house and someone
lives there. The place is well maintained and shaded by large trees and there
are picnic tables for visitors to rest. No one was home when we were there but
you could tell the residents welcomed visitors. They even have a small museum
in a room in the front of the house (we peeked through the latched screen door)...
- Ron Duckworth, Arlington, Texas, March 16, 2002
look forward to getting information on this unique and mysterious town. If there
are any readers who have information on Casa Piedra - please contact
us. Thank you.
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, please contact