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EARTH, TEXAS

Lamb County, Texas Panhandle
US 70 and FM 1055
41 Miles W of Plainview
18 Miles E of Muleshoe
Population: 1,078 (2010) 1,109(2000)

Earth, Texas Area Hotels >
Plainview Hotels
Welcome To Earth - Earth, Texas
Welcome To Earth
Photo courtesy Barclay Gibson, August 2009
History in a Pecan Shell

Earth had no 19th Century history. It began in 1924 and was originally called Fairlawn or Fairleen.

The source of its unusual name is unclear and three stories are given:
1. When the first postmaster was filling out the application for a name, a sandstorm blew in.
2. The town founder had wanted to call it Good Earth which was shortened by post office bureaucrats and
3. The postmaster described the storm on his applications and the reply from Washington (supposedly) stated : "Since the earth seems to move in that country, the post office shall be named Earth." (Or words to that effect.)

In 1930 Earth had a respectable population of 350 Earthlings. By 1940 it was 600 and it reached its zenith in 1980 with 1,512 residents.

The population increase (rare in West Texas) is due to irrigation and Southwestern Public Service's plant outside of town.

Earth Historical Marker
Earth by Mike Cox ("Texas Tales" column)

A Drive Around Earth

Photographer's Note:
These last trips to the Panhandle have given me a whole new perspective on this part of the state. Most of the towns were totally pleasant to visit. They each have their own personalities. - Barclay Gibson, September 2009
Earth, Texas - Closed Earth Gin Co.
Photo courtesy Barclay Gibson, August 2009
The Closed Earth Gin Co.
Earth Tx - Welcome sign
Earth welcome sign
Photo courtesy Barclay Gibson, August 2009
Earth Tx Downtown Buildings
Downtown Earth
Photo courtesy Barclay Gibson, August 2009
Earth Tx -  Earth diner and theatre
Earth Theatre and Diner
Photo courtesy Barclay Gibson, August 2009
Earth Tx -  Earth Theatre  and diner
Earth Tx -  Earth Theatre
Earth Theatre
Photo courtesy Barclay Gibson, August 2009
More Texas Theatres
Earth Tx - Earth News Building,  mural of domestic scene
Earth News Building
Photo courtesy Barclay Gibson, August 2009
Earth Texas - Coca-Cola ghost sign
Coca-Cola ghost sign
Photo courtesy Barclay Gibson, August 2009
See Coca-Cola | Ghost Signs
Earth Tx - Rockmans Gas Station and Water Tower
Photo courtesy Barclay Gibson, August 2009
Earth Tx - Water Tower
Earth Water Tower
Photo courtesy Barclay Gibson, August 2009
See Texas Water Towers
Welcome to Earth, Texas  - Established 1924
Earth - Established 1924
Photo courtesy Barclay Gibson, August 2009
Earth Tx - Closed grain mill

Closed grain mill
Photo courtesy Barclay Gibson, August 2009

Earth Tx - Closed grain mill scale and Top Dog
Scale
Photo courtesy Barclay Gibson, August 2009
Earth
by Mike Cox ("Texas Tales" column)

...Rancher William E. Halsell did not make the heavens above, or the fishes in the sea, but he created Earth in 1924. He had been in the area since 1901, when he bought up a huge chunk of the old XIT ranch for $2 an acre. In August 1924 he had a town site platted and began selling lots.

The Halsell Land Co. built a hotel, a cotton gin and the first house. Within a couple of years Earth could boast of a café, a service station, a store or two and more residences. And that’s about all the solid ground there is when it comes to the history of Earth.

Researchers have un-earthed at least four versions of how a point in a rural High Plains county became Earth:

The first settlers wanted to call the new town Tulsa, but the U.S. Post Office quickly took them back to Tulsa as a bad choice, since such a town already existed in Oklahoma.

Halsell supposedly called his town Fairlawn (some say Fairlene), but the frequent blowing dirt inspired someone to come up with Earth.

Another tale has R.C. “Daddy” Reeves, who operated the new town’s hotel, declaring: “We’ve got more earth here than anything else, let’s call it Earth.”

A final version has Halsell, wanting to emphasize the fertile soil around his town, came up with Good Earth. Washington, this tale holds, did away with “Good” and made the place plain old Earth.

While accounts vary as to how Earth, Texas got its worldly name, you can take to the soil bank that Earth is the only place in the United States called Earth. (There’s Black Earth, Wisc., Blue Earth, Minn., White Earth, Minn. and Md., Earth City, Mo and Middle Earth, Md. but that’s as close as it gets.) Neither does a global search reveal another Earth anywhere on Earth.

Someone seemingly with all the time on Earth has also discovered that in addition to Earth, the state of Texas has a small solar system of other towns named after the planets swirling around our sun. Beyond Earth, Texas’ extraterrestrial town names include Mercury, Mars, Saturn and Pluto. Several states have Venus, Jupiter and Neptune as town names, though no state has chosen to honor Uranus.

But to get back to Earth, despite its all-encompassing name, it’s a pretty down-to-Earth community, a rural agricultural center whose principle landmark is a shiny silver-colored water tower with the green (as in “God’s green Earth”) letters E-A-R-T-H painted on its tank.

Speaking of paint, several of the buildings along State Highway 70, the town’s main thoroughfare, have been enhanced by someone handy with a brush. The former movie theater, long since closed, has been dolled up as “The Tin Star,” featuring Anthony Perkins perpetually playing in “The Blob” with showings at 6 and 10 p.m. daily and matinees at 2 p.m. on Saturdays.

Down the street at Main and Cedar is the paint-enhanced office of the Earth News, an imaginary newspaper “Dedicated to the Development of the World’s Richest Irrigation Area.” On the side of another building, someone painted a giant green population sign reading “Earth Pop. 1019.”

That population is not big enough to support its own school, so students go to class in nearby Springlake. Because of that, the football team is known as the Wolverines, not Earthmen.

Small but tough, Earth endured the Dust Bowl and the Depression but stayed in slow decline until the late 1970s. The high point of Earth’s orbit came in 1980, when the town’s population peaked at 1,512. But the number of those calling Earth home has dropped by nearly a third since then.

Even the Dairy Queen stands abandoned these days.

© Mike Cox "Texas Tales"
column
Earth Tx Historical Marker
Earth Historical Marker on US 70
Photo courtesy Barclay Gibson, August 2009
Historical Marker
Earth
Before white men entered this region in late 19th century, nomadic Apache, Comanche, and Kiowa Indians followed the buffalo from water hole to water hole. A favorite Indian camp was at a spring (5 miles west), near which the Springlake headquarters of the XIT Ranch were located in the 1890s. William Electious Halsell (1850-1934) purchased Springlake Division in 1901.

Halsell and his son, Ewing Halsell (1877-1965), established the 300,00-acre Mashed O Ranch in 1902. When the economic base of the High Plains began to shift from ranching to farming, and other large ranches were being sold for the plow, the Halsells, in 1923, offered a portion of their land for sale to new settlers. Sale of fertile rangelands attracted many farmers from the midwest, where land prices were soaring.

The Halsell family selected this site for a new settlement in August 1924, built a hotel, cotton gin, and school, and named it, "Fairlawn". When the post office opened in 1925, the names "Fairlawn" and "Tulsa" were rejected, and "Earth" chosen. Marshall Kelley was appointed first postmaster. Earth soon had several churches and business enterprises.

Earth was incorporated in 1946, and continues to serve an area rich in agricultural diversification.
(1973)

Earth, Texas
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Muleshoe
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