County, West Texas
FM 1437 off US 180
92 miles E of El
Paso via US 180
90 miles NW of Van
Horn via Hwy 54
65 miles N of Sierra
Blanca via FM 1111
105 miles to Carlsbad Caverns
413 (2000) 569 (1990)
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 established there."
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 crops.
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
(Lubbock County). 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" |
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 and Midland 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|
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.
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 |
Town Newspaper |
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.
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
Dell City local and tourist information:
City Hall 915-964-2344
Chamber of Commerce: 915-964-2424
City Area Hotels
Paso Hotels | Van Horn Hotels
| Pecos Hotels
Fire Equipment in Dell City|
City Texas Forum Subject:
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. 22, 2005.
"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.
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
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.
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 shovel.
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.
Escapes, in its purpose to preserve historic, endangered and vanishing
Texas, asks that anyone wishing to share their local history, stories, and vintage/historic/contemporary
photos of their town, please contact
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