February 25, 2023 Morning — Van Horn, Texas
Love's Truck Stop
Van Horn, Texas
February 25, 2023
I have a vague memory of driving through this town as I drive north from Big Bend. This time I arrived from the west on I10.
A town that has seen better days. There's a main drag "busy" with 1/2 star motels built long ago, RV parks, empty store fronts -- although there are a few restaurants and bars that appear to be as thriving as they can be here. I10 passes right by town -- there you find a new Hampton Inn and Holiday Inn Exoress for the weary traveler, McDonalds and a couple of truck stops. Those businesses seem to be doing well -- I guess in part because Van Horn is an oasis along this remote part of the interstate.
Van Horn is a town in and the seat of Culberson County, Texas, United States. According to the 2010 census, Van Horn had a population of 2,063, down from 2,435 at the 2000 census. The 2020 census results detailed a decline in population to 1,941. Van Horn's official newspaper is The Van Horn Advocate.
Van Horn is located in southwestern Culberson County at 31°2′33″N 104°49′59″W (31.042489, –104.832928). Interstate 10 passes through the town, leading east 120 miles to Fort Stockton and northwest 118 miles to El Paso. Van Horn is the western terminus of U.S. Route 90; from Van Horn it leads southeast 73 miles to Marfa. Texas State Highway 54 leads north from Van Horn 65 miles to Pine Springs and the Guadalupe Mountains.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 2.8 square miles (7.3 km2), all land. Threemile Peak, elevation 4,868 feet (1,484 m), rises to the northwest overlooking the town.
Anglo-Texan settlement began in the late 1850s and early 1860s supportive of the San Antonio-El Paso Overland Mail route. Although U.S. Army Major Jefferson Van Horne is believed to have passed near the area in 1849 on his way to take command of what would later become Fort Bliss, the town is instead named for Lt. James Judson Van Horn who commanded an army garrison at the Van Horn Wells beginning in 1859. Lt. Van Horn's command was relatively short-lived, as the post was seized by Confederate forces in 1861 and Lt. Van Horn taken prisoner. Settlement was further stimulated by the construction of the Texas and Pacific Railway in 1881.
As of the 2020 United States census, there were 1,941 people, 607 households, and 339 families residing in the town.
As of the census of 2000, 2,435 people, 834 households, and 652 families resided in the town.
Van Horn is served by the Culberson County-Allamoore Independent School District and is home to the Van Horn High School Eagles.
In late 2006, The Wall Street Journal reported that Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of Amazon, had acquired 290,000 acres (1,200 km2) of land 25 miles (40 km) north of Van Horn, including the Figure 2 Ranch Airport, to house his fledgling space tourism company, Blue Origin. A 2006 article on Space.com reported that Blue Origin was expected to start commercial operations as early as 2010, aiming for 52 launches per year from the Van Horn facility.
In early 2010, NASA awarded Blue Origin US$3.7 million to work on an advanced technology, which detaches a crew cabin from its launcher if the shuttle malfunctions..
An August 2016 update reported Blue Origin was still conducting test flights with plans to begin flying piloted tests in 2017 and paying customers in 2018.
Blue Origin's actual first human launch from, and return to, Van Horn occurred on the morning of July 20, 2021, with a crew of four people.
Van Horn provided the inspiration for the 2019 song "Van Horn" by alternative-rock band Saint Motel which was featured on their EP The Original Motion Picture Soundtrack: Part 1 after the band spent a night there on a recent tour.