Old-School Marfa

Old-School Marfa

If you’re looking for a piece about how cool and hip Marfa, Texas is then you’ll be disappointed with this read.

I’m don’t want to talk about how famous, minimalist artist, Donald Judd, “discovered” Marfa in the 70s or how Houston attorney, Tim Crowley, “revived” Marfa in the last decade. I could link to countless articles from The New York Times, Travel + Leisure, Town & Country, and Time Out New York that sing the praises of this small, West Texas town. I’m not going to go on and on about how Hollywood has struck Oscar gold with Marfa as the backdrop.

Want to know why?

Because that’s not the Marfa that I love.

I was eight the first time I went to Marfa. My mother and I were visiting my uncle who lived in nearby Alpine. We drove 26 miles in search of the famous Marfa Lights and dipped cones from Dairy Queen. I got the ice cream, but the lights were elusive.

It was fifteen years until I would return to the remote, West Texas town. My boyfriend invited me to his hometown of Fort Davis, just 21 miles to the north. In 1997, the town was untouched by Tim Crowley. The Donald Judd disciples and other hipster types hadn’t migrated, set up galleries, or purchased vacation homes. No, fifteen years ago, people who were born and raised and/or worked in Marfa could actually afford to live there.

The picture of Marfa is now painted as the next Santa Fe or Aspen. I surely hope that isn’t the case. Marfa has always felt like my little secret. It’s sort of like that great hole-in-the wall bar you love that others have finally discovered. It’s still great, but not the same.

When I think of Marfa, thoughts of trips to Mondo’s for Mexican food and Baeza for feed bring a sense of nostalgia. Remembering the countless rounds at Texas’ highest golf course makes me grin. And no matter how many crazy art installations pop up (Prada Marfa, anyone?) and fusion restaurants appear, this dusty, West Texas town will always be Dairy Queen dipped cones and the Marfa Lights to me. Certainly, I’m not the only one.

On Christmas day, I braved the bitter cold in an attempt to capture the Marfa I know and love. These photos are the result.

6644777925 02ea5bf2c0 z Old School MarfaThis is highway 17 looking south to Marfa from Fort Davis. The terrible wild fires of 2011 that nearly destroyed Fort Davis traveled along this road.

6644778899 dd5bd762b4 z Old School MarfaThe Presidio County seat is in Marfa. At 3,855 sq miles, the county is larger than the state of Connecticut.

6644778135 1e5d6fb56f z Old School MarfaThis Cadillac was painted as a tribute to West Texas and sat alone along Highland Avenue.

6644778353 50875b4eb4 z Old School MarfaThe artist’s detail on the car is spectacular.

6649140509 12a0ecfc63 z Old School MarfaThere’s no barber’s pole, but Quintana’s Barber Shop will treat you right.

6644779243 e1bde11c3e z Old School MarfaEl Paisano is a classic hotel in Marfa and dubbed a National Historic Landmark.

6644779529 98d5d2d808 z Old School MarfaThe six flags that have flown over Texas guard the entrance of the hotel that hosted Elizabeth Taylor, James, Dean, Rock Hudson, and Dennis Hopper while filming Giant.

6644779949 8a82554714 z Old School MarfaShades of this Coca-Cola advertisement remain across from El Paisano.

6644778633 1f718ce5e5 z Old School MarfaThe store is gone, but the advertisement remains in this alley along Highland Avenue.

6644780137 78c3a065b7 z Old School MarfaAt the intersection of Highways 90 & 67, graffiti expresses the feelings of some locals.

6644776845 92103d74ae z Old School MarfaBaeza Feed Store, formerly Godbold, serves as a necessary resource for many area ranchers.

6644780911 3d086cbc1e z Old School MarfaTexas pride shines through with a twist.

6644781569 af040c4290 z Old School MarfaMy trips to Marfa aren’t complete without a stop at Mondo’s.

6644776049 444f36ed49 z Old School MarfaYou won’t see this picture in the glossy magazines. It’s on the edge of town along Highway 90 heading toward Valentine.

6644776287 dbc743070f z Old School MarfaAmerican Pickers should make a trip to Marfa.

6644775847 9522fa1376 z Old School MarfaJust outside the city limits on the Pinto Canyon Highway, lies one of the Eppenauer Ranches.

6644781145 df88d49a2c z Old School MarfaAcross the Pinto Canyon Highway from the Eppenauer Ranch is this weathered barn. Antelope are a common site around Marfa.

6644781323 10dc0af1ef z Old School MarfaEntering Marfa from the Pinto Canyon Highway, the mountains, water tower, & county seat are seen.

6644781923 e875f9914e z Old School MarfaThe pool hall was closed for Christmas.

6644783703 7ff6cdbb79 z Old School MarfaOdd sights abound in Marfa.

6644782245 381747d8e9 z Old School MarfaMany cowboys have honed their skills at the Marfa Roping Club’s arena.

6644782647 435a346750 z Old School MarfaThese cattle loading pens are located along the railroad and have been around since 1920. They have earned a Texas Historical Marker.

6644782935 e38fa15f23 z Old School MarfaCattle were brought to the pens in order to be shipped by rail. They are still weighed here prior to being shipped by truck.

6644777179 d95145cd5d z Old School MarfaThis was the office for the Marfa Railroad Pens, but burned years ago. It faces the tracks.

6644783449 b8ffa30f85 z Old School MarfaLooking past the pens to the vast landscape

6644777451 12d5298eb5 z Old School MarfaLeading into Marfa, here’s look at the rails that were used to carry the cattle away. Trains still pass through town.

My idea of Marfa is very much different from what Condé Nast writers and New York City reporters are spewing. As a native West Texan, I ain’t buying what they’re selling, at least when it comes to Marfa.

I prefer to keep the wild in my West.

For more on West Texas, check out my posts here and here.

Sit back and stay awhile