You’d think we’d all be sick of holidays, what with Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s having just side-swiped us but, heaven help me if it isn’t just about time for Valentine’s Day and, as that is the case, I think it apropos we take a look at a small town in the western part of the state known as Valentine, Texas.
Now Valentine is the smaller of Jeff Davis County’s two towns, thirty-six miles west of Fort Davis – and by smaller I mean real small. According to the official 2012 headcount, the town’s population is a booming 132 people.
Valentine was founded and named when a Southern Pacific Railroad crew, building east, reached the site on February 14, 1882. I suppose they’d’ve named it Groundhog had they ended up there 12 days earlier – everyone’s grateful that’s not the case, I’m sure.
Then again, another story goes that Valentine was founded on the 23rd or 24th of December in 1881 and named for John Valentine, President of Wells Fargo and a major stockholder in Southern Pacific.
I like the first story best – don’t you?
At any rate, the town’s had an up and down history when it comes to population, peaking out at around 629 residents in the 1930’s then petering out over the interceding decades with ever decreasing peaks and valleys of residency. You can bet traffic was never much of a problem, though.
Now, I grew up in Loveland, Colorado, which has a Valentine re-mailing program that we were told was world famous but which I’ve since discovered mainly only residents know about. Valentine, Texas, on the other hand and for obvious reasons, truly is known around the US for its Valentine re-mailing program … if the internet is to be believed, anyway.
People send out their Valentine’s Day cards to be cycled through the tiny post office of Valentine in order to receive that all-important Valentine, Texas post-mark before getting it forwarded back, then on to their sweetheart.
It’s the little things that matter, it seems.
Valentine also happens to be near an odd piece of art: in 2005, just west of Valentine on highway 90, the Prada Marfa “shop” was built. Just behind the plate-glass windows of this stark, faux storefront are displayed shoes and other items from the fall 2005 Prada collection. They say that, in time, the earth friendly building will fold back into the dirt but, for now, it remains a sealed display, complete with security alarms protecting its static wares. How about that?
One last bit of fame is attached to Valentine: at 5:40am on August 16, 1931, the strongest earthquake ever known to hit the state occurred right near here. They say all the buildings were damaged and even the tombstones in the local cemetery turned around. I’ll bet that was confusing.
Well, that’s Texas for you – Valentine, Texas. Check it out when you’re down here with your sweetheart and, while you’re at it, take a rest in one of our local B&B’s. They’ll appreciate it – but probably not half as much as you will.
Happy Valentine’s Day.