Culberson County, Texas

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Culberson County, Texas
Culberson courthouse 2009.jpg
Culberson County Courthouse in Van Horn
Map of Texas highlighting Culberson County.svg
Location within the U.S. state of Texas
Map of USA TX.svg
Texas's location within the U.S.
Named for David B. Culberson
Seat Van Horn
Largest townVan Horn
  Total3,813 sq mi (9,876 km2)
  Land3,813 sq mi (9,876 km2)
  Water0.2 sq mi (1 km2), 0.01%
Population (est.)
  Density0.6/sq mi (0.2/km2)
Congressional district 23rd
Time zones Central: UTC−6/−5
most of county
Mountain: UTC−7/−6

Culberson County is a county located in the U.S. state of Texas. As of the 2010 census, its population was 2,398. [1] The county seat is Van Horn. [2] Culberson County was founded in 1911 and organized the next year. [3] It is named for David B. Culberson, a lawyer and Confederate soldier in the American Civil War.

County (United States) Subdivision used by most states in the United States of America

In the United States, an administrative or political subdivision of a state is a county, which is a region having specific boundaries and usually some level of governmental authority. The term "county" is used in 48 U.S. states, while Louisiana and Alaska have functionally equivalent subdivisions called parishes and boroughs respectively.

U.S. state constituent political entity of the United States

In the United States, a state is a constituent political entity, of which there are currently 50. Bound together in a political union, each state holds governmental jurisdiction over a separate and defined geographic territory and shares its sovereignty with the federal government. Due to this shared sovereignty, Americans are citizens both of the federal republic and of the state in which they reside. State citizenship and residency are flexible, and no government approval is required to move between states, except for persons restricted by certain types of court orders. Four states use the term commonwealth rather than state in their full official names.

Texas State of the United States of America

Texas is the second largest state in the United States by both area and population. Geographically located in the South Central region of the country, Texas shares borders with the U.S. states of Louisiana to the east, Arkansas to the northeast, Oklahoma to the north, New Mexico to the west, and the Mexican states of Chihuahua, Coahuila, Nuevo León, and Tamaulipas to the southwest, and has a coastline with the Gulf of Mexico to the southeast.


Culberson County is in the Central Time Zone, however, northwestern Culberson County, including Guadalupe Mountains National Park, unofficially observes Mountain Time. It is one of the nine counties that comprise the Trans-Pecos region of West Texas.

Central Time Zone time zone

The North American Central Time Zone (CT) is a time zone in parts of Canada, the United States, Mexico, Central America, some Caribbean Islands, and part of the Eastern Pacific Ocean.

Guadalupe Mountains National Park national park in Texas, USA

Guadalupe Mountains National Park is an American national park in the Guadalupe Mountains, east of El Paso, Texas. The mountain range includes Guadalupe Peak, the highest point in Texas at 8,749 feet (2,667 m), and El Capitan used as a landmark by travelers on the route later followed by the Butterfield Overland Mail stagecoach line. The ruins of a stagecoach station stand near the Pine Springs visitor center. The restored Frijole Ranch contains a small museum of local history and is the trailhead for Smith Spring. The park covers 86,367 acres in the same mountain range as Carlsbad Caverns National Park, about 25 miles (40 km) to the north in New Mexico. The Guadalupe Peak Trail winds through pinyon pine and Douglas-fir forests as it ascends over 3,000 feet (910 m) to the summit of Guadalupe Peak, with views of El Capitan and the Chihuahuan Desert.

Mountain Time Zone time zone of North America

The Mountain Time Zone of North America keeps time by subtracting seven hours from Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) when standard time is in effect, and by subtracting six hours during daylight saving time (UTC−06:00). The clock time in this zone is based on the mean solar time at the 105th meridian west of the Greenwich Observatory. In the United States, the exact specification for the location of time zones and the dividing lines between zones is set forth in the Code of Federal Regulations at 49 CFR 71.


Culberson County Sheriff's Office CulbersonCountySheriffTX.JPG
Culberson County Sheriff's Office

Native Americans

Prehistoric Clovis culture peoples [4] in Culberson County lived in the rock shelters and caves nestled near water supplies. These people left behind artifacts and pictographs as evidence of their presence. [5] With its treacherous topography, the area remained untouched by white explorations for centuries.

Human prehistory is the period between the use of the first stone tools c. 3.3 million years ago by hominins and the invention of writing systems. The earliest writing systems appeared c. 5,300 years ago, but it took thousands of years for writing to be widely adopted, and it was not used in some human cultures until the 19th century or even until the present. The end of prehistory therefore came at very different dates in different places, and the term is less often used in discussing societies where prehistory ended relatively recently.

Clovis culture Prehistoric culture in the Americas

The Clovis culture is a prehistoric Paleo-Indian culture, named for distinct stone tools found in close association with Pleistocene fauna at Blackwater Locality No. 1 near Clovis, New Mexico, in the 1920s and 1930s. It appears around 11,500–11,000 uncalibrated radiocarbon years before present at the end of the last glacial period, and is characterized by the manufacture of "Clovis points" and distinctive bone and ivory tools. Archaeologists' most precise determinations at present suggest this radiocarbon age is equal to roughly 13,200 to 12,900 calendar years ago. Clovis people are considered to be the ancestors of most of the indigenous cultures of the Americas.

Pictogram ideogram that conveys its meaning through its pictorial resemblance to a physical object

A pictogram, also called a pictogramme, pictograph, or simply picto, and in computer usage an icon, is an ideogram that conveys its meaning through its pictorial resemblance to a physical object. Pictographs are often used in writing and graphic systems in which the characters are to a considerable extent pictorial in appearance. A pictogram may also be used in subjects such as leisure, tourism, and geography.

Jumano Indians led the Antonio de Espejo [6] 1582-1583 expedition near Toyah Lake on a better route to the farming and trade area of La Junta de los Ríos. Espejo's diary places the Jumano along the Pecos River and its tributaries. [7]

Antonio de Espejo was a Spanish explorer who led an expedition into New Mexico and Arizona in 1582–83. The expedition created interest in establishing a Spanish colony among the Pueblo Indians of the Rio Grande valley.

Pecos River river in the United States of America

The Pecos River originates in north-central New Mexico and flows into Texas, emptying into the Rio Grande. Its headwaters are on the eastern slope of the Sangre de Cristo mountain range in Mora County north of Pecos, NM, at an elevation of over 12,000 feet (3,700 m) feet. The river flows for 926 miles (1,490 km) before reaching the Rio Grande near Del Rio. Its drainage basin encompasses about 44,300 square miles (115,000 km2).

Antonio de Espejo was also the first white person to see the Mescalero Apache just east of the Guadalupe Mountains. The Mescalero [8] frequented the area to irrigate their crops. In 1849 John Salmon "RIP" Ford [9] explored the area between San Antonio and El Paso noting in his mapped report the productive land upon which the Mescalero Indians farmed. By the mid-17th Century the Mescaleros expanded their territory to the Plains Navajos and Pueblos from the Guadalupes, and El Paso del Norte. Their feared presence in the area deterred white settlers. January 1870, a group of soldiers attacked a Mescalero Apache village near Delaware Creek in the Guadalupe Mountains. July 1880 soldiers at Tinaja de las Palmas attacked a group of Mescaleros led by Chief Victorio. [10] August 1880, Buffalo Soldiers ambushed Victorio at Rattlesnake Springs. Victorio retreated to Mexico and was killed in October by Mexican soldiers. [11]

Mescalero ethnic group

Mescalero or Mescalero Apache is an Apache tribe of Southern Athabaskan Native Americans. The tribe is federally recognized as the Mescalero Apache Tribe of the Mescalero Apache Reservation, located in south central New Mexico.

John Salmon Ford Confederate Army officer

John Salmon Ford, better known as "Rip" Ford, was a member of the Republic of Texas Congress and later of the State Senate, and mayor of Brownsville, Texas. He was also a Texas Ranger, a Confederate colonel, doctor, lawyer, and a journalist and newspaper owner. Ford commanded men during the Antelope Hills Expedition and he later commanded the Confederate forces in what was arguably the last engagement of the American Civil War, the Battle of Palmito Ranch on May 12–13, 1865. It was a Confederate victory, but as it occurred more than a month after Robert E. Lee's surrender it had no effect on the outcome of the war.

El Paso, Texas City in Texas, United States

El Paso is a city in and the county seat of El Paso County, Texas, United States, in the far western part of the state. The 2017 population estimate for the city from the U.S. Census was 683,577. Its metropolitan statistical area (MSA) covers all of El Paso and Hudspeth counties in Texas, and has a population of 844,818.


The demand for new routes from Texas to California caused an uptick in explorations. [12] The San Antonio to El Paso leg of the San Antonio-California Trail was surveyed in 1848 under the direction of John Coffee Hays.

John Coffee Hays Texas ranger and politician

John Coffee "Jack" Hays was a captain in the Texas Rangers and a military officer of the Republic of Texas. Hays served in several armed conflicts from 1836 to 1848, including against the Comanche people in Texas and during the Mexican–American War.

Texas Commissioner Robert Simpson Neighbors [13] was sent by Governor Peter Hansborough Bell in 1850 to organize El Paso.

Lt. Francis Theodore Bryan [14] camped at Guadalupe Pass while exploring a route from San Antonio to El Paso via Fredericksburg. Upon reaching El Paso in July 1849 his report recommended sink wells along the route. July 1848, Secretary of War William L. Marcy wanted a military post established on the north side of the Rio Grande. Maj. Jefferson Van Horne [15] was sent out in 1849 to establish Marcy's goal.

John Russell Bartlett, [16] [17] was commissioned in 1850 to carry out the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo. Bartlett declared the Guadalupe Mountains dark and gloomy, and proposed a transcontinental railroad be built south of the peaks. Three years later, Capt. John Pope [18] was sent to scout out a railroad route, and in the succeeding year to search for artesian water supplies.

The San Antonio-San Diego Mail Line and the Butterfield Overland Mail [19] both serviced the area 1857-1861. These mail coaches provided a means for travelers to reach California in 27 days, if the passenger had the $200 for a one-way fare and was courageous enough to withstand the weather and dangers en route. [20]

Rival railway companies began competing for rights of way. The Texas and Pacific Railway [21] and the Galveston, Harrisburg and San Antonio Railway [22] eventually reached an agreement to share the tracks.

County established and growth

Van Horn City-County Library VanHornCityCountyLibrary.JPG
Van Horn City-County Library

Culberson County was established in 1911 from El Paso County and named after David B. Culberson. [23] [24] The county was organized in 1912. Van Horn [25] became the county seat.

With the opening of the railways, ranchers began to settle in the county. Lobo was settled in part due to misreprentation by promoters. A class action lawsuit by the residents forced the promoters to build the Lobo Hotel. Unfortunately, the area was struck by two powerful earthquakes [26] - one in 1929, and the 6.0 quake near Valentine that was felt as far away as Dallas. The hotel was destroyed. [27]

Guadalupe Mountains National Park [28] [29] was established in 1972. President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the 1966 legislation to create the park. Stipulation was made that all mineral, oil and gas rights had to be ceded to the Federal government.

Space Exploration

Blue Origin, the space vehicle development company founded by Jeff Bezos, maintains a sub-orbital launch site approximately 25 miles north of Van Horn, Texas.


Culberson County Hospital and Van Horn Rural Clinic Culberson County Hospital - Van Horn, Texas November 2013.JPG
Culberson County Hospital and Van Horn Rural Clinic

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 3,813 square miles (9,880 km2), of which 3,813 square miles (9,880 km2) is land and 0.2 square miles (0.52 km2) (0.01%) is water. [30] It is the fifth largest county by area in Texas. The largest part of Guadalupe Mountains National Park lies in the northwest corner of the county, including McKittrick Canyon and Guadalupe Peak, the highest natural point in Texas at 8,751 feet (2,667 m).

Major highways

U.S. Highway 90 south of Van Horn US 90 Van Horn.jpg
U.S. Highway 90 south of Van Horn

Adjacent counties

National protected areas


Historical population
1920 912
1930 1,22834.6%
1940 1,65334.6%
1950 1,82510.4%
1960 2,79453.1%
1970 3,42922.7%
1980 3,315−3.3%
1990 3,4072.8%
2000 2,975−12.7%
2010 2,398−19.4%
Est. 20162,198 [31] −8.3%
U.S. Decennial Census [32]
1850–2010 [33] 2010–2014 [1]

As of the 2010 United States Census, there were 2,398 people residing in the county. 78.9% were White, 1.3% Native American, 1.0% Asian, 0.6% Black or African American, 15.4% of some other race and 2.8% of two or more races. 76.2% were Hispanic or Latino (of any race).

As of the census [34] of 2000, there were 2,975 people, 1,052 households, and 797 families residing in the county. The population density was less than 1/km² (1/sq mi). There were 1,321 housing units at an average density of 0 per square mile (0/km²). The racial makeup of the county was 68.94% White, 0.71% Black or African American, 0.47% Native American, 0.57% Asian, 27.13% from other races, and 2.18% from two or more races. 72.24% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There were 1,052 households out of which 39.10% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 58.20% were married couples living together, 13.50% had a female householder with no husband present, and 24.20% were non-families. 21.50% of all households were made up of individuals and 7.40% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.82 and the average family size was 3.30.

In the county, the population was spread out with 32.20% under the age of 18, 7.80% from 18 to 24, 25.80% from 25 to 44, 23.00% from 45 to 64, and 11.20% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 33 years. For every 100 females there were 102.70 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 97.10 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $25,882, and the median income for a family was $28,547. Males had a median income of $22,500 versus $14,817 for females. The per capita income for the county was $11,493. About 21.50% of families and 25.10% of the population were below the poverty line, including 30.20% of those under age 18 and 19.40% of those age 65 or over.



Unincorporated communities

Ghost Town


Presidential elections results
Presidential elections results [35]
Year Republican Democratic Third parties
2016 36.5% 28059.2%4544.3% 33
2012 33.6% 29564.6%5681.8% 16
2008 33.9% 25764.8%4921.3% 10
2004 51.7%40747.6% 3750.8% 6
2000 40.8% 41357.0%5772.2% 22
1996 26.5% 32964.8%8048.7% 108
1992 29.6% 25150.1%42420.3% 172
1988 42.5% 41756.7%5570.8% 8
1984 55.5%50944.4% 4070.1% 1
1980 55.4%54143.3% 4231.2% 12
1976 47.4% 37351.7%4070.9% 7
1972 69.1%55529.6% 2381.3% 10
1968 38.6% 29842.7%33018.8% 145
1964 39.9% 31460.1%473
1960 46.2% 30052.8%3431.1% 7
1956 54.4%32445.1% 2690.5% 3
1952 56.8%33143.2% 252
1948 12.4% 3879.7%2447.8% 24
1944 6.8% 1779.7%20013.6% 34
1940 12.9% 4586.8%3030.3% 1
1936 8.8% 2391.2%239
1932 5.9% 1893.8%2850.3% 1
1928 45.9% 7254.1%85
1924 12.8% 1579.5%937.7% 9
1920 12.8% 685.1%402.1% 1
1916 1.6% 297.6%1240.8% 1
1912 0.0% 0100.0%145

See also

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Van Horn, Texas Town in Texas, United States

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Lobo, Texas Ghost town in Texas, United States

Lobo is a ghost town in Culberson County, Texas, United States that was abandoned in 1991.

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Carnoviste was a hostile southern (Guadalupe) Mescalero chief, his band—presumably Tsehitcihéndé or Niit'ahénde—lived in the Texan Big Bend Country, ranging on both sides of the Rio Grande from the Guadalupe Mountains towards east of the Limpia Mountains onto the edge of the Southern Plains.


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Coordinates: 31°27′N104°31′W / 31.45°N 104.52°W / 31.45; -104.52