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LOBO, TEXAS. Lobo was twelve miles south of Van Horn on the Southern Pacific line and U.S. Highway 90 in southwestern Culberson County. Near the site were the Van Horn Wells, the only dependable water source for miles. The wells were a stop on the San Antonio-San Diego mail route in the 1850s and 1860s. In 1882 the railroad drilled a water well and built a depot and cattle loading pens in the area. By 1907 a post office had been opened and named for the wolves that had formerly roamed the area. Storekeeper J. Curtis Jones was postmaster. In 1909 a townsite was laid out at Lobo; promoters advertised artesian wells and a large hotel, among other amenities, but when the purchasers arrived they discovered that they had been duped. Through legal action, however, they forced the promoters to build a hotel, drill wells, and generally live up to their promises. In 1911, when Culberson County was organized, Lobo vied unsuccessfully with Van Horn to become the county seat, and in 1914 Lobo had an estimated population of twenty, two physicians, several cattle breeders, an automobile livery, and a general store.
In 1929 an earthquake destroyed the hotel, and by the mid-1930s the estimated population of Lobo was only ten. Its post office closed in 1942, but its estimated population rose to twenty-five in the mid-1940s, thanks in part to the location of the Texas Mica Company headquarters and two railroad houses in Lobo. During the late 1940s large-scale irrigation began in the area, and in the early 1950s cotton became an important local crop. The Anderson Clayton Company set up a gin in Lobo, but in 1962 the railroad stop shut down. By the mid-1960s, when the estimated population of Lobo had climbed to ninety, the water table began dropping dramatically. The cost of keeping the irrigation pumps going skyrocketed, and the cotton gin shut down. The population dropped to an estimated forty-five in the late 1960s and to forty in the mid-1970s, when Bill Crist bought the town and reopened the roadside store. The store did good business for a while, until drugs and crime became a problem; it was burned in 1976. In 1988 Crist put the whole town-a four-room motel, a gas station and diner, a bunkhouse, several small houses, and a showerhouse-on the market for $60,000. By 1991 no purchaser had been found.
BIBLIOGRAPHY:Austin American-Statesman, February 17, 1991. T. Lindsay Baker, Ghost Towns of Texas (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1986). Judith A. Parsons, "For Sale: One Town, Needs Repair-The Desert Won at Lobo, Texas," Journal of the West 29 (October 1990).
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Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.