Big Bend
2010 Census - 1,981
2000 Census - 2,121
Marfa, Texas
Marfa Texas History:
The town was established in 1883 as a water stop and freight headquarters on the Galveston, Harrisburg and San Antonio Railway. By 1885 Marfa had a hotel, a general store and two saloons; poker bets in the saloons were often made with deeds to town lots. The post office was established in 1883. In 1885 Marfa replaced Fort Davis as the Presidio County seat. In 1900, Marfa had 900 residents; by 1920 it had 3,553 residents. Because of Presidio County’s location north of the Rio Grande River, government troops were stationed in Marfa during the Mexican Revolution. Camp Albert was established in Marfa in 2011, and a P.O.W. camp and the Marfa Army Air Field were established there during World War II. Artist Donald Judd moved to Marfa in the 1970s and began buying up buildings and renovating them for art use. He is probably most responsible for turning Marfa into an artistic and folksy enclave and a destination city for visitors from around the world. The town is a particularly popular destination for Austin residents. Any “Bucket List” of Texas cities to visit would include Marfa, Alpine and Marathon. Marfa is famous for its Marfa Lights, and for being the location for the filming of the move “Giant” which was filmed in Marfa and Valentine, Texas. Portions of the movies “Fandango,” “Sylvester,” “The Good Old Boys,” “No Country for Old Men,” and the movie “There Will Be Blood” were filmed in Marfa. The town is also a popular destination for gliding and agate hunting. Marfa is located at 4,830 feet above sea level. Both Marfa and Fort Davis are two of the coolest places in Texas during the summer months; jackets are often necessary during summer evenings. U.S. 90 and U.S. 67 merge for 34 miles near Alpine. The joined roads pass through Alpine and the beautiful scenic Paisano Pass west of Alpine, and continue through the beautiful Glass Mountains to Marfa where U.S. 67 turns south towards Presidio. Marfa is located at the intersections of U.S. 66, U.S. 90 (San Antonio Street), and SH 17 (Dean Street), 58 miles southwest of Balmorhea, 21 miles southwest of Fort Davis, 26 miles slightly southwest of Alpine, 56.7 miles slightly northwest of Marathon, 106 miles northwest of Big Bend National Park, 60 miles northeast of Presidio and Big Bend Ranch State Park, 74 miles southeast of Van Horn, and 36 miles southeast of Valentine, Texas.
Marfa Lights:
The Marfa Lights have been written about as early as the 1800s. According to the Texas Handbook Online, at times they appear colored and they move about, split apart, melt together, disappear and reappear. On clear nights they may beat the Texas Department of Transportation’s U.S. 90/U.S. 60 roadside viewing area, nine miles east of Marfa. The viewing area features restrooms, picnic tables, exercise space, a short walking trail and plenty of parking. Walking lights are installed along the perimeter. The annual Mystery Lights Festival celebrates these lights. Email
Presidio County Courthouse, 1886:
The stone and brick courthouse was designed in Second Empire style by famed courthouse architect Alfred Giles. Visitors may climb the 4.5 flights of stairs to a circular room offering a fabulous view in every direction; an elevator is available for the first three floors. The view includes the Davis Mountains to the north, the Del Norte Mountains to the east, and the Chinati Mountains to the southwest. The courthouse is open weekdays until 5pm. The 2010 Presidio County census was 7,818. (432) 729-4452. 300 North Highland Avenue.
Historic Fort D.A. Russell:
This Army fort was established in 1911 as Camp Albert, a base for Calvary and air reconnaissance units sent to protect West Texas from Mexican bandits after the Pancho Villa raid. The base was expanded and renamed Camp Marfa during World War I. In 1924, a patrol called the Mounted Watchmen was established to deter aliens from crossing the Rio Grande River. In 1930, the base was renamed Fort D. A. Russell. The post was deactivated n 1933, then reactivated in 1935 as the home base of the 77th Field Artillery. The post was expanded during World War II, and the Marfa Army Airfield was constructed nearby for use as pilot training facility. It was later used as a shooting locale for the movie Giant, and other movies. The Marfa National Bank (Brite building) once served as the Marfa Army Air Field headquarters. On October 23, 1946, the base was transferred to the Corps of Engineers. The Texas National Guard assumed control of the base a short time later. In 1949, most of the base's land was divided up and sold to local citizens. In the late 1970s, artist Donald Judd acquired the former fort and began converting the buildings to permanent large scale art installations now known as the Chinati Foundation Museum which opened to the public in 1986. The Fort Russell historic district is roughly bounded by Ridge Street, El Paso Street, Kelly Street, U.S. 67 and FM 2810.
Prada Marfa (Art Sculpture Building), Valentine, TX:
This may be the best thing in the Marfa/Valentine/Van Horn area. This 2005 art sculpture is actually a small 15 by 25 foot building with a lighted interior showroom filled with Prada shoes and handbags which are viewed through the front display windows. The door is nonfunctional. The shoes and handbags were picked out by Miuccia Prada from her 2005 Fall/Winter Collection. The building was designed to resemble a Prada Store. It has an aluminum frame and is built of adobe bricks. There are no utility lines and there is no parking lot. The handbags contain the security system. The display is stunning at night. The artists and supporters of this project knew it would not take long for vandals to arrive; it took 3 days. “Made of earth-friendly earth, this biodegradable adobe building will slowly melt back into the landscape once the looters have removed the merchandise. The slow fade to oblivion will provide countless hours of conversation for motorists driving through West Texas, including questions like "What the hell was that?" Other interesting outdoor sites include the Contrabando Movie Set near Presidio, the Cadillac Ranch outside of Amarillo, and the large white cross outside of Groom, Texas. Prada Marfa is located just off U.S. 90, approximately 1.4 miles northwest of Valentine, Texas.