I’m not sure what made me want to stop in the town of Sierra Blanca on our way back from our week long camping trip at Guadalupe Mountain National Park. If I had to guess, it probably had to do with geocaches and old buildings!
For any of you that are rusty on your Spanish, Sierra Blanca means White Mountain Range. The city of Sierra Blanca was named after the Sierra Blanca Mountain that is just Northwest of town which got its name for the white poppies which grew on it.
History of Sierra Blanca
On November 25, 1881, Southern Pacific and Texas and Pacific Railway had built to within ten miles of each other near what is now Sierra Blanca, however, neither had any intention of yielding to the other.
On November 26, 1881, the heads of both Railroads met where what is now a museum and agreed to a compromise. Then on December 15th, Jay Gould of the Texas and Pacific Railroad drove a silver spike to join the two roads seven miles southeast of Sierra Blanca Mountain. Transcontinental service began the next day. Sierra Blanca was founded in 1881 at the completion point of the southern transcontinental railway.
The Historical Marker
America’s Second Transcontinental Railroad
(Joined Here in 1881) Great achievement in American history. Victory for statesmen, including Henry Clay and John C. Calhoun, who early as 1845 had supported in the United States Congress the idea of a transcontinental railroad. This was effected in 1869, but a need remained– as advocated in the Congress– for a southern route. In 1869 the Southern Pacific began constructing such a line eastward from the west coast. In 1871 the Texas & Pacific began building a line, under a special Act of Congress, from east texas to southern California. They ran a dramatic race which reached its climax as construction crews for the roads neared this site. Southern Pacific reached Sierra Blanca on Nov. 25, 1881– while crews of the T. & P. were 10 miles to the east of here. On Nov. 26, 1881, an agreement was reached by Jay Gould, for the Texas & Pacific, and Collis P. Huntington, for the Southern Pacific, whereby in Sierra Blanca the roads would “approach, meet, and form one continuous line to the Pacific Ocean.” The lines were joined here on Dec. 15,1881, and on Dec. 16 transcontinental service was inaugurated.
Sierra Blanca Landmarks
Hudspeth County Railroad Depot Museum
The Museum is located in the 1882 Railroad Depot that served both the Texas and Pacific and Southern Pacific Railroads. This is the location where both Railroad heads met and agreed on a compromise.
The State Theatre
Built in the 1950’s by Greg Morales and his wife, it opened for business in 1952 and closed in the mid-1980’s. Since that time it has been sold and relisted a couple of times on e-bay, however, it never opened it’s doors again. Some believe that it is the last remaining intact and unaltered adobe movie house in the country.
Old Truck Stop
Owned by Jean Wells in the 50’s and 60’s.
Old “downtown” or “main strip” Area
While I am not 100% positive, I believe that this was what use to be the old downtown or main strip. This is old HWY 80 which had the railroad depot, truck stop, cafe, post office (no longer there), and theater.
I am not sure what these buildings once were hopefully, someone will stumble upon this and be able to clue us in!
Our Thoughts & Getting There
If you are driving through or are in the area, it is definitely worth the stop just to explore. Don’t worry, down on the other side of “town”, down business 10, there is a large gas station with a Subway restaurant in it.
I really do wish we had spent more time there, to explore even more and maybe even learn more about the history of this town.
If you are from here or know any history, I would love for you to comment below and share it with us!
Located on Interstate 10
33 miles West of Van Horn
88 miles Southeast of El Paso
Population: 569 (as of 2010)