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Reeves County TX
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Texas Ghost Town
Reeves County, West Texas

31° 49' 30" N, 103° 54' 32" W (31.825, -103.908889)

Hwy 285 and FM 652
5 miles SE of Red Bluff
38 miles N of Pecos the county seat
NW of Mentone
Population: 2 (2005)*

Orla Texas Area Hotels ›
Pecos Hotels

Orla TX post office 79770

Former Orla Post Office, TX 79770
Photo courtesy Barclay Gibson, May 2012

History in a Pecan Shell

The town was born in 1890 as a section house for the Pecos River Railroad. Their post office was granted in 1906.

In the 1930s, the population could truly be counted on the fingers of both hands - that is one still had the full complement of fingers and thumbs.

Businesses in town doubled during WWII - to two.

The town continued to swell to 40 and then 60 people.

In the mid-1960s Orla was an established oil supply center and the population reached its zenith of 250 Orlanites.

The population decreased to slightly under 200 from 1970 through 1990. (See Reader's Forum below)

It remains an equipment shipping point.

Orla, Texas Update
"I regret to inform you that everything pictured here has been leveled in favor of modern development." - Oldcar Trader, October 26, 2019

Orla TX post office sign revealed
Closed store with peeled grocery sign revealing Orla post office sign
Photo courtesy Barclay Gibson, May 2012
More Texas Post Offices

Orla Texas street scene
Photo courtesy Sarah Reveley, 2007

Orla  Grocery, Orla Texas
It's a long way to anywhere from...
Photo courtesy Sarah Reveley, 2007

Orla Historical Marker


Gateway to Red Bluff Lake, Guadalupe Mountains, Carlsbad Caverns recreational areas.

Established 1890 on Pecos Valley Railroad. Developed during land promotions. Had school, general stores, hotel, livery stable. In 1931 remaining merchant and postmaster Hal Old moved 1/4 miles west to new highway.

Orla Texas historical marker
Orla historical marker on US 285
Photo courtesy Sarah Reveley, 2007

An old gas station in west Texas
Former gas station in Orla
Photo courtesy Rob Hann, 2003
More Texas Gas Stations

Cafe in Orla Texas
Cafe in Orla
Photo courtesy Rob Hann, 2003

Overturned old green truck in Orla
Photo courtesy Barclay Gibson

Orla Baptist Mission Pastor James Hughes family, Orla Texas

Orla, Texas Forum:

  • Subject: Orla Baptist Mission

    James Hughes was pastor of this church in 1953 – pic is of James, Sallie & Janet Hughes. We would drive out from Pecos on Sunday morning, and quite often were invited to someone’s home for lunch and the afternoon instead of driving back to Pecos and back out for the evening service. We were there when Hall Olds had the only service station and café. We now live in Conroe, TX and I retired from Alsay Inc (industrial water well drilling co) after 20 plus years as comptroller there. I was born and raised in Pecos – graduating from Pecos Hi in 1949. - Sallie Hughes, September 12, 2007

  • Orla Remembrance and History

    I lived in two of the Pasotex Pipeline Oil camps near Orla, Texas from birth to age 6. The first camp was referred to as the Guadalupe camp and the other we called the Orla camp. The camp houses were extremely well built having screened in porches and hardwood floors. Our yards were outlined by pitted flat rocks. Gentle rolling hills once covered by an ocean surrounded the camps. Guadalupe Peak could be seen in the distance, more visible in the evenings.

    Some of the families in our community included Jim and Esther Powers, Lucky and Pauline Cooley (children: Monte, Tishe, & 2 more sisters), the Dennis family (children: Mike and Jalrea), Bill and Doty Price (children: Butch and Priscilla), and my parents, Charlie and Mildred Phillips (children: Sandy & the twins, Chuck & Wally). There were many more, but I was too young to remember. Many of these individuals are no longer with us. We lost Monte Cooley to Vietnam around 1967. He was such a treasure...I've often wondered where he would be today had that not happened. We used to play marbles together in the sand and rocks.

    There was a little Baptist church in Orla just off the Jal highway that we attended whenever a preacher was available. My mother played the piano there. A recent visit found the roof leaking, the double entry doors standing ajar, old scripture material scattered about, and a fox living in the back.

    As of September 2006, there is a little grocery store sitting back of the historical marker off Hwy 285 that is currently open and operated by Bessie Mitchell. I admire her spirit and keeping the flame for travelers in need. Oil derricks outlined in lights stand like Christmas trees across the desert from Orla to Kermit.

    A controlled burn is being conducted along the nearby Pecos River as a pilot project to clear the salt cedar. The rationale, I am told, is to prevent water uptake by the cedar and the clogging of the river by the trees/plants. The last burn was five years ago.

    Although located in a remote, isolated part of Texas, the area is rich in history. This land near the Pecos River was traveled by American Indians (later tribes being Apaches and Comanches), Spanish explorers, and gold-seekers bound for California. On March 8, 1854 during a survey expedition in search of the best railroad route to the Pacific, Captain John Pope forded the Pecos River at the least threatening point. It is situated on the Loving-Reeves county line one mile south of the Texas-New Mexico boundary. The crossing, which was eighty feet wide and 2 ˝ feet deep (Kermit, 1984), became known as Pope’s Crossing. Stages traveling the Butterfield Overland Mail route used this passage. Later in 1936 when Red Bluff Dam and Reservoir was created on the southern edge of New Mexico and five miles north of Orla, Texas, the crossing was inundated. Another piece of history linked to the area was the Goodnight-Loving cattle trail which extended across the region near the Pecos River.

    Orla sunsets and sunrises are beautiful. Together with my memories of the desert smell of greasewood and dust, I return periodically for balance and harmony. - Sandy Phillips Countryman, September 30, 2006

  • Orla, Texas

    Bubba's Bus Route and the Day the Water Tank Fell

    I Iived in Orla Texas from 1961 through 1968 until I graduated from Pecos High School. Life in Orla was made to say the least. Our memories were good for the time we lived there. At that time, there was much activity in the area with oil and gas, and later about 1967, a sulphur boom came along with several exploration companies coming in to the area. .. more
    - Michael E. Beckham, September 16, 2005
  • *Orla, Texas

    I'm one of those internet Yankees who bought some acres of land in West Texas, located somewhere just outside of Orla.

    My wife and I took a driving vacation, in April, to see if we could locate a few of my impulse buys, including that one around Orla. Well, you'd think you could find 87 acres of land but, in West Texas, t'ain't all that easy. In fact, we never did.

    We did stop by the Orla Post Office, which was closed for the day, and by Miss Bessie's general store. According to a handwritten "Orla's population today" sign hanging in the post office, Miss Bessie is half of the town's population. I've never known everybody in a town before, so we're looking forward to meeting the other fifty percent of Orla, Texas -- maybe on our next visit. - Alan Koss, August 06, 2005

    PS The reason I wrote this is 'cause you guys still carry Orla's population as it was in 1990, at around 200... Not any more... It is, to all intents and purposes, getting ready to join your roster of Texas ghost towns.

  • My Father worked for Pasotex Pipeline very near Mentone, Texas. I went to the school in Mentone. The year I started to school there were about 4-5 seniors that graduated from there. I went to the first, second and part of the third grade there. Then, we had to go to Pecos, Texas for the rest of my school. I graduated from Pecos, Texas in 1959. So, I know the school closed long before the 1970's. From Mentone, Texas, we moved down the road to Orla, Texas. We lived at the Standard Oil Pump Station called, Orla Station.

    Orla had a grocery with a post office in it and a cafe next door. There was a "motel" but people lived there. There was also a church. My Father helped get a school bus started from Pecos for all the Oil company children and ranchers children. When we first started there were my sister and myself and two other girls that were sisters. Their Father also worked for an oil company. When I graduated, there was the biggest bus that they made. I don't remember how many children were on the bus but it was full. - Rita Ann (Lee) Wagner, August 28, 2004

  • Reeves County TX 1907 Postal Map
    The 1907 Reeves County postal route map showing the relative location of Orla and ghost town Dixieland
    From Texas state map #2090
    Courtesy Texas General Land Office

    See Lost Towns of the Pecos

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    Orla, Texas Nearby Towns:
    Pecos | Balmorhea | Mentone | Barstow
    See Reeves County

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