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Presidio County, West Texas

29° 52' 34" N, 104° 1' 3" W (29.876111, -104.0175)

Farm Road 169 (Off US Hwy 67)
35 miles S of Marfa
4 miles S of Alamito
N of Shafter & Presidio
Population: 37 (2000)

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Ruins in Plata, Texas
Plata ruins
Photo courtesy of Ron Duckworth, June 2001

History in a Pecan Shell

Plata or La Plata as it was known, was settled in the 1880s. In 1883 Robert R. Ellison, brought 3,000 head of his father's cattle to Plata. He brought the cattle by train to Alpine, then drove them to Alamito Creek.

The Kansas City, Mexico and Orient Railway laid tracks through the area in 1930 and Plata was made a station. Plata had once had a store, which is no longer in business.

According to the Handbook of Texas, Plata is still a ranching community today with a few extant buildings and the railroad siding.

Plata in the 1940s
Plata Texas Forum

Interior of Plata, Texas ruins
Plata ruins
Photo courtesy of Ron Duckworth, June 2001

Plata in the 1940s

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

Very remote—just a railroad section house. An old couple named Fannie and Mac McKinley lived there with their dog, who had his own plate set at their dining table. They were truly wonderful, warm people to know. Fannie tried to teach us girls how to play the piano. They raised turkeys, which often felled prey to coyotes, mountain lions, and bobcats. Mac McKinley was a section foreman, for the Santa Fe RR. They lived in the section house on one side of the tracks and there was a ranch house on the other side of the tracks. J.C. Hall painted the section house every other year.

Sometimes our father would put the motor car on the tracks and send Lola and I (all by ourselves) down to visit with the McKinleys. When we got there, Mr. McKinley would take the motor car off the tracks and when we were ready to head back, he would put the motorcar back on the tracks towards our boxcars. I am sure that the Santa Fe Railroad would have had a fit if they knew that.

Plata, Texas Forum

  • Subject: Plata, Texas (Presidio Co)
    Sometime around 1950, my father--who worked for the Santa Fe Railroad--was temporarily assigned to Plata. He, my mother and I lived close to the tracks, but I don't remember whether or not it was the section house. I was only 4-5 years old at the time, and the only clear memories I have are those about playing with some Hispanic children in the cool mud and pools in the shade beneath the RR water tank. I couldn't speak Spanish, and they couldn't speak English, but we had a good time. - Jim Robinson, August 04, 2013

  • Since a friend of mine owns the property across the road from the old section station on the “Orient” railroad I spend a lot of time there. Prior to WWII there was a fairly large population along Alamito Creek and considerable truck and subsistence farming going on. The railroad has now been purchased by the Texas Department of Transportation and leased to a Mexican consortium, Texas-Pacifico Transportation Limited. About one short train a week is now running to and from Presidio. The ruins which are shown in your account have had a protective cover put over them to, at least slow down deterioration. There is now a historical marker at the ruins. The house was built by John Davis who arrived no later than 1870. He had a peach orchard and made peach brandy which made Plata a popular stopping place on the old Chihuahua Trail. - Gerald G. Raun, Alpine, Texas, March 04, 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. .... - Ron Duckworth - Arlington, Tx, March 16, 2002

  • 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 110 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

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  • Presidio County TX 1940 Census Map
    Presidio County TX 1940s Map showing Plata, Alamito Creek and the railroad.
    From Texas state map #4335
    Courtesy Texas General Land Office

    Take a road trip

    West Texas

    Plata, Texas Nearby Towns:
    Marfa the county seat
    Casa Piedra
    Van Horn
    More Presidio County Towns

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