Thanks to Jason
Penney, we have more photos of Dell City than the Handbook of
Texas has text. According to the Handbook of Texas Online,
the town was started "sometime before 1949 when a post office was
Dell City Namesake -
(See Forum below)
The population was a little less than 200 in the early 50s, and
peaked just short of 1000 in the early 60s. An estimated 40,000
acres are irrigated and onions, tomatoes and cotton were the principal
We called the Dell City Chamber of Commerce and spoke to Gene
Lutrick, the President of the chamber and a man who holds numerous
other positions vital to the city. Mr. Lutrick has been in Dell
City since 1950 when he moved from Abernathy
He was kind enough to fill in a few blanks for us
Dell City Billboard,
A Classic from the Golden Age of Community Billboards
Farmer in the Dell"
First of all, Mr. Lutrick is a little more accurate about the date.
1947 is the year that men came looking for oil and discovered
the underground water. Developers from Austin
immediately got busy promoting the town.
When we asked who Mr. Dell might have been, Mr. Lutrick asked if we
were familiar with the nursery song "The Farmer in the Dell".
There was no Mr. Dell - it's Dell as in "a small, secluded, usually
forested valley." Just forget the part about the forest.
One would think that Michael Dell of Austin
would open an office here, at the very least a small one to receive
mail or to have outgoing items postmarked Dell City.
Dell City Animal Control Shelter
Days in Dell City
Eager to put the water to use, the developers planted 200 acres of
cotton. This was great news
for the local rabbits who ate all but 14 acres of it. The uneaten
cotton produced 21/2 bales per acre, and farmers started planting
alfalfa to keep the rabbits occupied. Today, in addition to
the onions and tomatoes
previously mentioned, chili peppers
are also grown and a vineyard sends sweet grapes to Lubbock.
Reports on wildlife include abundant deer and antelope. We
asked Mr. Lutrick about buffalo (roaming or otherwise) and he said
that there were none in Dell City. He did say that he has, on occasion,
heard a discouraging word. We didn't ask what it was. Local sheep
ranchers reduce the coyote population by hunting them from helicopters
and a recent hunt killed 40 in just two days. One entrance to the
Guadalupe Mountain National
Park has been closed due to numerous sightings of mountain lions.
The first school in Dell City was a trailer beside the First Baptist
Church and there were only four or five children according to Mr.
Lutrick. He said that at one time there were close to 400. Today there
are around 200 students and some are bussed in from New Mexico.
The state of New Mexico pays the school district, which you have to
admit is a pretty sensible arrangement for all concerned.
Texas View from Orange, New Mexico
Mexico is just across the state line and TxDoT hasn't given
Dell City one of those fancy granite state silhouettes like they
have when you enter Texas on major highways. Although Orange is
a ghost town now, it used to be a stagecoach stop on the Butterfield
Stage Line. We are sorry to report that the ruins of the actual
stagecoach building have been bulldozed long ago.
Jail in Dell City dates from the 1940s
Dell City has its own weekly newspaper. It's the Hudspeth County
Herald and Dell Valley Review. There are also 2 groceries,
two cafes and two Hudspeth County Deputies who keep law and order.
We called the newspaper and Mary Louise Lynch, the editor returned
our call and gave us a few more interesting facts on the town. She
has been printing the newspaper for 35 years and the Review absorbed
the Herald sometime in the 60s.
Ms. Lynch comes from California, but has been in Dell City from the
very beginning. She remembers when the first residents lived in tents
and (correctly) points out that Dell Citizens were Texas' last
pioneers. The alfalfa that was meant to distract the rabbits
from the cotton is now a major
crop and cotton is long gone. Mary Louise thinks that the nearby
Delaware Mountains may have had some bearing on the town's name.
She reported that the El Capitan Theater closed in the
60s and that for some time it was used as a residence. A fire destroyed
the town's major grocery and the proprietors retired rather than rebuild.
Most Dell Citizens make grocery trips to El
Paso. She's seen one or two dogs in the pound in the last three
or four years and can't remember the last time the jail had an inmate.
Dell City's crisis now is more threatening than rabbits. It's a familiar
problem with small West Texas towns
having their groundwater literally drilled out from under them and
sold to overpopulated and always thirsty El
Dell City local and tourist information:
City Hall 915-964-2344
Chamber of Commerce: 915-964-2424
Dell City Area Hotels
Paso Hotels | Van
Horn Hotels | Pecos
Fire Equipment in Dell City
Dell City Texas
Dell City Namesake
I now reside in New Mexico but grew up in Texas and still have
a lot of relatives in Texas. One story I remember when I was maybe
7 years old was that Dell City, Texas was named after my uncle Joyce
Ardell (Dell) Donathan whom I believe worked in the post
office there from 1947-1954. Sadly he passed away in 2005 at the
age of 85. He last lived in Wildorado, Texas where his widow still
resides. This morning I ran across his obituary from Amarillo.com
and wanted to share the information from it and his family explaining
that Dell City was named after him. It would be nice if he could
be credited for the naming of Dell City if in fact it was named
after him. I have no way of proving it but I do believe that this
is factual information. Following is an excerpt from the obituary.
It's the 6th Obituary on this page: http://amarillo.com/stories/112505/obi_3328584.shtml
"WILDORADO - Joyce Ardell Donathan, 85, died Tuesday, Nov.
"Ardell" or "Dell," as many knew him, was born in Floydada to Frank
and Elizabeth Donathan... He worked at the smelter in Amarillo
until he was drafted into the service in 1943. He served in the
Far East Air Force in Guam, The Philippines, Layte, and Luzon before
returning from service in 1946. He then farmed in the Plainview
area until settling east of El Paso. As one
of the first "homesteaders" in the area, the town of Dell City was
named after him. In 1954 he moved back to Amarillo and worked
for the Post Office and farmed. In 1961 Ardell, Berniece, Delores
and Kenny moved to Wildorado to farm.
In 1972 he was appointed Postmaster at Vega
where he retired in 1984..."
Maybe some old timer from that area and time will run across the
story and possibly recall knowing my uncle and how the town was
named. Being named after a nursery rhyme just doesn't make sense.
- REV, August 31, 2011
Dell City Texas
Hello I have a few pictures but they don't show anything in particular
but us kids living in Dell City Texas and going to the Guadalupe
Mountains in the summer when my parents could afford it.
Hi-my name is Belia Padilla. Our family lived in Dell City Texas
until about 1975 or so when we moved away to the Texas Panhandle.
My father farmed 5 miles out of Dell City (Bailey Farm-yellow house)
grew alfalfa, corn and raised Angus cattle for Mr. Bailey out of
El Paso Texas. I remember the Dell City Mercantile Store owned by
As I read up on Dell City it took me back and I remember a Gene
Lutrick as a young child living in the outskirts of town on the
way to the catholic church (don't know if it's the same person)
and the Lynchs who lived in a big and beautiful house with peacocks
running around on a hill in Dell City. What I do remember is Mr.
Lusk the school principal (got one spanking from Mr. Lusk) and Betty
Snodgrass the school secretary. I used to clean house for the Snodgrasses.
I have been curious all these years as to how Dell City is doing?
Are there people living there and if so how many? I don't know if
anyone will read this or not but I sure would appreciate an update
on good old Dell City. - Belia Padilla, April 19, 2006
Dell City STONE Land developer
I may be the only person alive today that helped clear the first
rangeland near the location where Dell City is today.
In 1946 a group of Lynn county farmers went to Salt
Flats to grub out the Mesquite trees and turn this ranch land
into farming land. Thad Smith and his brother Ores Smith. Thad Smith
owned the Hd 14 Alas Chambers Crawler that the grubbing ploy was
mounted on. The two drivers of this rig were Harley Smith, and JB
Williams. Harley and JB were brother in laws, Vera Harley's wife
also lived at the camp or near by, they slept in their 40 model
Ford. Camp was a little shotgun one room house that most of us slept
and eat in, everyone had his army cot and a change of clothes.
I remember the old Cafe. I think it was sort of a cafeteria style
back then. We had been home for a few days and were returning to
camp and back to our jobs and we would always stop at Salt Flats
and have apple pie and coffee. On this trip JB and his sister Vera
had brought along their (Getair) and Mandolin, and they played on
and on and on, everyone would holler one more time. Pilipino Baby.
To get to the place where we camped we would turn north just east
of the Salt Flat Cafe and down a cow trail road through I think
seven gates, I know I got smarter as I would always try to set in
the middle so I wouldn't have to open those gates, I was just a
boy at the time, my job was burning the brush that my dad and uncle
raked up into big piles. With a big rake they had invented and welded
with our little farm welder and hauled all the way over to Salt
Flat on a bob tail truck.
The first crop that was planted was Alfa, it didn't turn out very
well because they had the land in borders, and were going to use
flood irrigation like they use to do over in the Hondo valley, well
the water wouldn't flow the way it was supposed to and Mr. Stone,
the big boss decided to level it after it had been planted so all
of the Alfa ended up at one end of the field.
The thing I remember most is how that dirt would make my hair stand
straight up and my mom would say I looked like I had been plugged
into a light socket, I was 14 years at the time. I worked through
the summer and up into the fall then had to go back home and go
to school, we were always late getting into school as we would have
to pull cotton to pay for shoes and a coat to wear to school, that
was the good old days.
There was a government trapper working that area back then and he
would stop by our camp every time he was in that area and I would
get to go with him and help him run his trap line. Coyotes and Bob
cats was what he would catch most of the time. When the rabbits
ate up the cotton I'm sure there were folks that would have liked
to have had the Coyotes and Bob cats back.
Dad and I, along with my wife and son and my mother drove over to
Dell City in 1958 just to see the town and to look around some and
we felt kind proud that we had a little part in making that happen,
we were the first ones to acutely start the farms. They pumped the
first water into reservoirs and that was part of my job at times
to watch for Gopher holes in the dam's, it would wash out in a short
time and no way you could stop it once it got ahead of you and that
I have rambled on more than I should have but when I saw your story
and how you had opened the old Cafe up again it brought back lots
of memories, and all the folks that I went out there with are all
gone on but they are the ones that got it all started. Thanks for
listening I would like to do it all over again. - Glen Lowe, Lubbock,
TX, August 08, 2005
Our sincere thanks to Mr. Gene Lutrick and Mary Louise Lynch for
their candid, entertaining and informative telephone interviews.
We look forward to including more about Dell City in the future
and hope that you'll visit Dell City and make it part of your next
West Texas itinerary. - Editor
Escapes, in its purpose to preserve historic, endangered and vanishing
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