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Marfa, Texas

Updated on July 4, 2019
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I am a travel writer who focuses on the smaller towns and cities of America. In other words, I focus on "the road less travelled".

TEXAS VACATIONS


WEST TEXAS

CHIHUAHUAN DESERT


The Chihuahuan Desert is the largest hot desert in North America
The Chihuahuan desert is also the easternmost and the southernmost desert in North America.

The Chihuahuan Desert covers an area of approximately 140,000 square miles .

The desert stretches from West Texas, into southern New Mexico, into the southeastern part of Arizona, and south to the northern edge of central Mexico.

Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, across the Rio Grande River from El Paso, Texas, is the largest city in the desert region.


In West Texas, the Chihuahuan Desert includes an area of about 50,000 square miles, almost one fifth of the land mass of the entire state of Texas,


RAINFALL IN THE CHIHUAHUAN DESERT
The average annual rainfall for the Chihuahuan Desert is a mere 9.3 inches.


WILDLIFE IN THE CHIHUAHUAN DESERT
The Chihuahuan Desert wildlife includes more than 130 species of animals such as Mule deer, Pronghorn antelope and mountain lions.
The largest prairie dog colony in North America lives in this desert.


PLANTS IN THE CHIHUAHUAN DESERT
Chihuahuan Desert plants include five hundred different types of cactus. Cresote, Mesquite, and Yucca plants are some of the most abundant plants in the region.


OVERGRAZING IN THE CHIHUAHUAN DESERT
The Chihuahuan Desert ecosystem has been decimated by an increasing human population, over grazing with cattle, sheep and goats, and the waste and misuse of scarce water supplies in the region.


For more information on the Chihuahuan Desert, click on this link: .

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chihuahuan_Desert




MARFA LIGHTS LOCATION
MARFA LIGHTS LOCATION | Source

CHIHUAHUAN DESERT

MARFA LOCATION AND HISTORY

LOCATION

Marfa is located 26 miles west of Alpine, Texas; 21 miles southwest of Fort Davis, 160 miles southwest of Odessa, Texas and 162 miles southeast of El Paso, Texas.

The town is situated at the intersection of U.S. Highway 67 and U.S. Highway 90 on the northeastern side of Presidio county.

The elevation is 4,690 feet above sea level.

The present population is about 2,320 inhabitants.

HISTORY

The town was founded in 1883 as a freight and water terminal for the San Antonio railroad. According to legend, the town was named "Marfa" because the wife of a railroad manager who was reading the book "The Brothers Karamazov" by Fyodor Dostoyevsky, suggested the name to her husband. The name "Marfa" is the name of a character in the book.

In 1971, Donald Judd, the American minimalist artist, moved to the town and promoted his theories on Minimalist Art from his new home.

In 1979, Judd purchased 340 acres of land outside of the city limits. In 1986, the Chinati Foundation established an exhibit to promote the works of Donald Judd and other artists on the site Judd had bought.

The website for the Chinati Foundation is: http://www.chinati.org/ and their telephone number is: 432-729-44597.

In 1996, the Judd Foundation was formed to preserve and promote the work of Donald Judd in Marfa and in New York.


PRADA MARFA

In 2005, artists Elmgreen and Dragset opened an exhibit designed after an actual Prada store and stocked with Prada shoes and hand bags chosen from the 2005 fall and winter collection donated by Miuccia Prada, on U.S. Highway 90 near Donald Judd's Chinati Foundation.

Prada Marfa is located 1.5 miles northwest of Valentine, Texas and 37 miles from Marfa.


NEWSPAPER

The newspaper for the community is the Big Bend Sentinel. Their telephone number is: 432-729-4342 and their website is: http://bigbendsentinel.com/: .

The November 1, 2012 edition has a report of a UFO sighting near Fort Davis.


CHAMBER OF COMMERCE

The website for the chamber of commerce is: http://marfachamber.org/ . Their telephone number is: 432-295-0509.

PRADA MARFA NEAR VALENTINE TEXAS

HOTELS

1) HOTEL PAISANO

The Hotel Paisano is located at: 207 North Highland Avenue.

Their website is: http://hotelpaisano.com/ .

The 1950's movie "Giant" starring Rock Hudson, Elizabeth Taylor and James Dean was filmed in the area. The stars and film crew stayed in the Hotel Paisano.


2) THUNDERBIRD HOTEL

The Thunderbird Hotel is located at 601 West Antonio Street.

Their telephone number is: 432-729-1984. .

Their website is: http://thunderbirdmarfa.com/ .


3) THE HOTEL SAINT GEORGE
The Hotel Saint George is located at: 105 South Highland Avenue.
Their telephone number is: (432) 729-3700.
Their website is: http://marfasaintgeorge.com/ .



"GIANT"--1956 starring JAMES DEAN, ELIZABETH TAYLOR, ROCK HUDSON

MARFA LIGHTS HISTORY

"Ghost Lights" are not unique to the area. They have been seen throughout the recorded history of mankind in various parts of the world.

The Native Americans living in the area before the arrival of the first European settlers, the Apache, had observed the phenomena known as the "Marfa Lights" for many years prior to the first recorded observance by white settlers in the area. The Apache believed the lights to be the remnants of stars that had fallen to earth.

In 1883, cattle rancher Robert Ellison was herding cattle through Paisano Pass. As nightfall descended, he camped out on the desert floor and settled down for the night, when, suddenly, off in the distance, he spied several reddish orange balls in the vicinity and direction of the Chinati Mountains.

The balls of light appeared to hover and dance five to ten feet above the ground as they moved across the desert terrain. He contemplated them for awhile and then decided that perhaps and most likely, they were the signal lights of roving bands of Apache warriors.

In the ensuing days and weeks, Ellison mentioned what he had seen to other ranchers and settlers in the area. Many of these people claimed to have witnessed the same thing.

At this time, there were no "artificial" lights, other than fire, created by humans. There were no automobile lights, flashlights, etc. that might have been used to create this type of event.


POSSIBLE EXPLANATIONS FOR THE MARFA LIGHTS

Possible explanations for the cause of the phenomenon include:

⦁ phosphorescent minerals that might glow in the dark and be seen from a distance.
⦁ the accumulation of methane gas.
⦁ St. Elmo's fire.


These ideas can be discredited because phosphorescent minerals and methane gas are not found in the area, and conditions in the area do not favor the generation of St. Elmo's fire.

Another explanation is the reflection of headlights in the distance from automobiles or pickup trucks.

This explanation does not take into account the observances of the Apache Indians or the early white settlers in the area long before the advent of automobiles or flashlights. The lights are said to dance, move and jump around at varying speeds and time intervals. Lights from an automobile shine in a straight line and do not bounce around.

Many people believe the lights to be UFO'S as the lights exhibit the same characteristics as UFO sightings in other parts of the world.

The lights appear suddenly, seemingly out of nowhere with no apparent source, move about at high speeds then suddenly stop, move at will, then hover for extended periods of time and move in various directions.

The Texas Highway Department has built a roadside park nine miles east of the town on U.S. Highway 90 for the purpose of viewing the Marfa Lights.

If you and your friends come to the area, perhaps you will be fortunate enough to see and observe the "Marfa Lights".


THINGS YOU CAN DO IN MARFA


1) MARFA LIGHTS FESTIVAL


The Marfa Lights Festival is held each year during the Labor Day weekend.
For more information on the Marfa Lights Festival 2019, click on this link: http://marfachamber.org/menu/


You can also call this number for more information: 432-295-0509.


2) JAMES DEAN MEMORIAL


See the James Dean Memorial on US Highway 90, 5 miles west of Marfa, on the north side of the highway.


For more information on the James Dean Memorial in Marfa, click on this link:
https://www.roadsideamerica.com/tip/63525


3) FLY GLIDERS


If you are into flying gliders, the Marfa Plateau and the mountains around Marfa produce the thermals necessary for some good glider flying.

Glider lessons and rides are available throughout the year.


For more information on flying gliders in the area contact the Marfa Municipal Airport at 915-729-3102. or 1 800 667 9464.


4) THE ARTS


In the 1970's, minimalist artist Donald Judd bought some buildings in Marfa to display his art. Today, Marfa has become a center for creative people to display their work.


Many art festivals are held in Marfa throughout the year. For information on art festivals in Marfa, click on this link:


https://www.visitmarfa.com/annual-events-in-marfa-texas/


For more information on the arts in Marfa, click on this link:
https://www.visitmarfa.com/art-in-marfa/


CAMPING AND RV PARKS


There are several camping and RV facilities inside Marfa and near Marfa.


1) THE APACHE PINES RV PARK


Has 25 Full RV hook-ups, free cable, WIFI, level pull-throughs.

It is located on Hwy 90 on the western side of town. Click on this link for more information on the Apache Pines RV Park:


https://www.visitmarfa.com/partner_listing/apache-pines-rv-park/


2) EL COSMICO


El Cosmico is a 21 acre campground and hotel in Marfa. Accommodations include:
⦁ 10 renovated vintage trailers
⦁ 15 safari tents and scout tents
⦁ 3 Sioux-style tepees,
⦁ 2 Mongolian yurts
⦁ tent campsites.
Their address is: 902 South Highland Ave.
Their telephone number is: 432-729-1950
Their website is: https://elcosmico.com/


3) TUMBLE IN RV PARK


The Tumble In RV Park has 14 sites, five 75′ pull-through's, water, sewer, and free Wi-Fi. It is located on Hwy 90, 1/2 mile east of Marfa.
Their telephone number is: 432-301-9860

For more information on RV parks and campgrounds, contact the Marfa Chamber of Commerce at this number: 432-295-0509.


STATE AND NATIONAL PARKS NEAR MARFA, TEXAS


1) GUADALUPE MOUNTAINS NATIONAL PARK


The Guadalupe Mountains National Park is about 105 miles north of Marfa.


The four highest mountain peaks in Texas are found here. Guadalupe Peak, the highest point in Texas, is one of the peaks located in this park.


The Guadalupe Mountains National Park website is: https://www.nps.gov/gumo/index.htm .

Their telephone number is: (915) 828-3251.


For more information on the Guadalupe Mountains National Park, click on this link:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guadalupe_Mountains_National_Park


2) BIG BEND NATIONAL PARK


The Big Bend National Park is located about 106 miles south of Marfa.


The Rio Grande river runs through the park. The Rio Grande river is the boundary between the United States and Mexico.


Sea fossils and dinosaur bones can be found in the park.


The Big Bend National Park website is: https://www.nps.gov/bibe/index.htm


Their telephone number is: (432) 477-2251


For more information on the Big Bend National Park, click on this link:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Big_Bend_National_Park


3) DAVIS MOUNTAINS STATE PARK


The Davis Mountains State Park is located about 25 miles north of Marfa.


The Davis Mountains State Park website is:
https://tpwd.texas.gov/state-parks/davis-mountains


Their telephone number is: (432) 426-3337.


For more information on the Davis Mountains State Park, click on this link:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Davis_Mountains_State_Park


4) BIG BEND RANCH STATE PARK


The Big Bend Ranch State Park is located about 59 miles south of Marfa.


The Big Bend Ranch State Park website is:

https://tpwd.texas.gov/state-parks/big-bend-ranch .


Their telephone number is: (432) 358-4444


For more information on the Big Bend Ranch State Park, click on this link:


https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Big_Bend_Ranch_State_Park


5) BALMORHEA STATE PARK


The Balmorhea Pool is fed by an underground spring, the San Solomon Springs.

The pool is one of the largest spring fed pools in the world.


Balmorhea is about 60 miles north of Marfa.


The Balmorhea State Park website is:

https://tpwd.texas.gov/state-parks/balmorhea


Their telephone number is: (432) 375-2370.


For more information on the Balmorhea State Park, click on this link:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Balmorhea_State_Park


HISTORIC SITES NEAR MARFA


1) FT. DAVIS NATIONAL HISTORIC SITE


Ft. Davis was established as a military post from 1854 to 1891. Troops protected mail coaches, freight wagons and people traveling on the San Antonio to El Paso Road.


Ft. Davis is 21 miles northeast of Marfa.


The Ft. Davis website is: https://www.nps.gov/foda/fortdavisfrontierpost.htm


Their telephone number is: 432) 426-3224.


For more information on the Ft. Davis National Historic Site, click on this link: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fort_Davis_National_Historic_Site


SITES OF INTEREST NEAR MARFA


2) MCDONALD OBSERVATORY


The McDonald Observatory is about 16 miles from Ft. Davis and about 37 miles from Marfa.


The McDonald Observatory website is: https://mcdonaldobservatory.org/


To watch a video about the Observatory, click on this link:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rZdFdgtBRgg


For more information on the McDonald Observatory, click on this link:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/McDonald_Observatory


HILL OUTSIDE MARFA, TEXAS
HILL OUTSIDE MARFA, TEXAS | Source

A GAME OF THRONES

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Updated second edition, incorporates elements of past expansions.

Features a streamlined rulebook and updated art.

Includes welcome new enhancements like Tides of Battle cards and player screens.

 

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    • profile image

      Kim Thornsburg 

      6 years ago

      Hello there. I enjoyed your article on the Marfa Lights. I grew up in Marfa back in the 50's and played in the hangar at the Marfa Army Airfield when I was a young boy. I would eventually become a Naval Aviator and flew for the Coast Guard for two years. During that time, I flew a search and rescue mission for the Air Force (and NASA) ... a crashed UFO which did indeed crash and all "human" personnel were killed. The next day the Air Force confined me in a room at Ellington AFB and had me read and educate myself about UFO classified material. Behold, there was MARFA ... the lights were/are classified as "third category UFO" according to the Army and the USAF. Prior to his death, the operations officer of the Marfa Air Field during WWII was sure to give me "classified" documentation verifying what I had read in 1975. Thought this information would be of some interest to your readers. Best wishes.

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