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CASA PIEDRA, TEXAS

Texas Ghost Town
Presidio County, West Texas
At the S end of Ranch Road 169
S of Marfa
N of Presidio


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History in a Pecan Shell

Spanish 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 considering leaving.

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.


See Forum - Emails from descendants of Lucia Hernandez Russell
Direction to Casa Piedra >

West Texas Paint Train Box Car and Hall Family,  1940
Life on a West Texas Paint Train in the 1940s
by the Hall Sisters

Casa Piedra in the 1940s

"We 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, at lunchtime.

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."

From Life on a West Texas Paint Train in the 1940s by the Hall Sisters

Casa Piedra, Texas
The post office?
Photo courtesy Ron Duckworth, 2002
Presidio County TX 1940 Census Map
Presidio County TX 1940 Census Map showing Casa Piedra, Plata, Shafter, Marfa and region (See West Texas Towns)
Courtesy Texas General Land Office

Casa Piedra Forum

  • Directions to Casa Piedra
    Plata, 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 Presidio.

    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

  • Subject: Casa Piedra, Texas
    I am a direct descendant of Lucia Hernandez Russell of Casa Piedra. She was my great grandmother and we fondly referred to her as Mamma Chia. The Russell family helped settle Presidio county and the Vasquez family, who are our cousins, own the actual "rock house" and yes there is a museum in it. The reason it still appears on Texas Maps is because there was a U.S. post office there. On my great grandmother's property stands the two-room schoolhouse mentioned in one of your posts. My father, William Edward Russell the IV, went to school in that building until the eighth grade as did his two sisters and many of his cousins. He then went to high school in Marfa as the school only went to the eight grade. One of his teachers not only taught my dad, but also taught my brother and me. Education was a hallmark of my great grandmother and several of her daughters became teachers and three of her great granddaughters are educators.

    I was the organizer of the reunion in 2001 mentioned in another one of the posts on your site. We had 150 family members attend and that was just a drop in the bucket of relatives connected to what others are calling a ghost town. I haven't met any ghosts down there, but Mamma Chia sure had a lot of ghost stories to tell us as children. I have many, many fond memories of Casa Piedra because my grandparents owned and occupied the ranch behind the rock house and my brother, sister and I still own the ranch along with my two Aunts and their children. There is so much more to tell about Casa Piedra, I could write a book. Hmm, maybe I will! - Karen Russell Holmes, July 18, 2014

  • Subject: Casa Pierdra
    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

  • Subject: Casa Piedra
    Whoa 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

  • My 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


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