|Closed gas station
Photo courtesy Barcaly
Gibson, October 2006
in a Pecan Shell
Bronco never had a railroad, but has somehow managed to reach its
centennial year - due to occur in 2003. A cowboy with the colorful
name of "Gravy" Fields opened a store and applied for a post office
in 1903. The name is said to have been suggested by a traveling salesman.
Field's store supplied ranches in the vicinity and by 1912 the town
had 25 persons. The population high-water mark wasn't reached until
the 1960s when it was estimated to be 180. It has since declined to
the present estimate of 30.
|The closed Bronco
Meat Packing & Mercantile
Photo courtesy Barcaly
Gibson, October 2006
Just two miles
west of town was a watering hole predating Spanish exploration.
on The New Mexico State Line and getting Mail in Texas
My father R.F. Caraway, was a water well driller in Bronco when
we lived there in 1939. He met Mr. Gravy Fields when Mr. Fields
was trying to keep the school at Highway from being closed. Mr.
Fields told my father that if he would move our family into his
house on the county line of Texas/New Mexico and we would attend
the Highway school, that we could have the house rent free... more
- Loretta Caraway, August 17, 2007
Dear Editor of Texas Escapes, This morning, on a lark, I typed in
Bronco, Texas on my internet search engine. The first image that
popped up on your website was a photograph of an old gas station.
That gas station was owned by my Grandparents and I spent every
summer from 1965 to 1980 there. I grew up in the Dallas area, but
as soon as school was out for summer vacation, I would beg my parents
to take me to the bustling metropolis of Bronco!
As is with all small towns, Bronco had a ton of stories. Gravy (the
town's founding father) had three children...Robert, Ty and Anita.
They all built their homes around their father's house and they
lived there their whole lives. Robert had the 07 Ranch and was quite
successful, as was Ty. They were both larger than life west Texas
At the gas station where I would spend all day with my granddad,
we would have the most colorful characters pass through. One day,
we had a woman who was roller skating from California to Florida!
She was doing it to raise money for some organization and this was
back in the day before that became popular to do to bring awareness
to whatever cause the person is promoting. We had people who would
show up without any money and they would trade whatever they owned
for a tank full of gas. Many times my grandfather would just give
them the gas...he wouldn't even charge them. But then again, if
you knew my grandfather, you would know that's the type of man he
We had our regulars that you could set your watch to. They would
show up, talk about the weather or politics, drink their bottle
of soda pop and then go back to their fields to work. I was a good
25 years younger than most of the residents that lived there, yet
they always treated me like an adult. I had learned and was driving
a pickup truck by the time I was nine years old, and I was always
available to help out if a rancher needed a hand. For my services
helping out, I would charge them a snickers bar and a Coca-Cola.
They had no idea I was doing the work because I had fun doing it
(well maybe they did when I look back on it!)
At one time, there was a restaurant, cotton gin, mercantile store,
and the gas station all operating at the same time. Bronco was hopping!
Just north of Bronco was a slaughtering house owned by Dan Fields
(Ty's son.) But like most small towns, there always seems to be
a catalyst which leads to it's demise and that catalyst was that
the price of gas had gone through the roof. Plus with gas rations,
people began traveling less to vacation spots like Ruidoso and where
we once would easily pump a thousand gallons a day of gas, we began
to pump less than a hundred. Oh there were some days better than
others, but you could feel the winds of change.
I've never been back to Bronco since 1980. My grandparents closed
up the gas station and moved to central Texas. My grandfather has
passed on, but my grandmother continues to live a full life.
There are many memories that I could share, but will stop at these
and reflect upon the halcyon days of Bronco, Texas. Thanks for the
webpage. - Jay Weesner, November 14, 2006
The seeming insignificant little community of Bronco has played
an interesting part in the lives of both my wife and me. I would
like to relate a couple of them:
My wife went to High School in nearby Plains,
Texas, and lived about twelve miles southeast of Bronco. She
rode a school bus to Bronco where it first turned north on State
Line road to let some kids off and then it went south to deliver
her and others. There was a standing deal with the bus driver that
if all went well on the bus; the southbound kids could get off at
Fields Store while the north bound group was being taken home. Then
the south bound group would get back on and continue on their way.
Can you imagine such a thing being allowed in this day and age?
We both graduated from High School in 1959. We met the first day
of college, hit it off rather well and soon I found myself making
little weekend trips with her to her home. Coming from the west,
the civilized way to her house was into Plains,
about ten miles southwest on the Lovington Hiway then west on a
fairly decent county road to the house. However, at Bronco it was
possible to turn south about eight miles, hope to spot the irrigation
pump with the big PontiacV8 engine strapped to it and turn east
a couple of miles. This road was not much more than turn-rows and
not a good idea in bad weather but a lot quicker. It was a bit of
an adventure during the winter, it do get cold on the High Plains.
To understand Bronco a little better, you must know what was on
the New Mexico side of the line in those days. Lea county N.M. was
"wet" while Yoakum county TX was and I think still is "dry". There
was a "watering hole' about 50 feet from state line road. There
were not enough New Mexicans within 20 miles to fill the bar so
they had to mostly be Texans. The time zone changes from Central
to Mountain time at that point so I guess they figured it was all
right to drink as long as it wasn't on Texas time. A few years later
there was an accident at the intersection in which a car lost control,
went through the bar and destroyed an airplane that had been parked
inside the tin building that had once served as a dance hall. A
car, two people, a bar, a dance hall and an airplane all at the
same time! Sounds like divine intervention to me.
We were married in Plains in 1961, and did not get back for many
years. By then most things had changed in Bronco. On a trip west
we turned south, then east and found what was left of the house.
Just a pile of concrete blocks and a couple of rusted out pickup
truck bodies. She poked around through the junk but unlike a movie,
she found no childhood treasures, just junk. That was 2002 and we
haven't been back since. Some years ago a Welsh Poet wrote "you
can never go home" and guess he was right.
- Jim James, Plano, Texas, October 09, 2006
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