Prada in the Desert: Valentine, Texas

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From Van Horn, US 90 takes you south and east across the vast emptiness of West Texas.  There is very little to see, aside from the lines on the pavement in front of you, until you reach the outskirts of Valentine, Texas.  Of course, this is where you find a Prada store.

It seems like the perfect place for a high-end boutique, right?

Okay, it’s not a real store, it’s an art installation, known as the “Prada Marfa”.  Even though it’s much closer to Valentine than Marfa, Valentine must not have been trendy enough to get its name on the sign.

 

There are some pricey handbags and shoes on display in the window of the faux store.  As you could guess, this lonely store filled with expensive items is a tempting target for vandals and potential thieves.  I found a note, weighted down by a rock, saying “This place is bullet-proof.  If I were you, destroy the cameras first.”  Indeed, there was one bullet hole in the thick glass, but whoever fired the shot wasn’t successful at breaking in.

It seems like an obvious target for thieves, but apparently the artists who created the Prada Marfa store didn’t realize it.  Three after the installation was complete, vandals broke in, and stole everything.  Now, the bags on display are bottomless, and are wired into a security system.

Moments after leaving the Prada store, you’re in Valentine — a town that received its name from the date of its founding: February 14, 1882.  The town has fewer than 200 residents, and you could pass through it in just a minute or two, but with so little else to see along this stretch of US 90, it makes sense to stop and take a few pictures.

Yes, Valentine is a one-horse town.  Unless of course, there was another horse hiding behind the building.

For some perspective on the loneliness and emptiness of West Texas, consider this: Valentine is the only town in Jeff Davis County — a county that covers 2,265 square miles (or 5,870 square kilometers).  Fort Davis is a larger community, but it’s not an organized town.

There is a church here…

…and the hard-to-photograph Hi Way Cafe.

Valentine, Texas is one of several towns that experience a big rush at the post office in February.  If you want to send your sweetie a card with a genuine Valentine, Texas postmark, you can.  Buy a card, sign it, put it in an envelope and address/stamp it, just like you would if you were mailing it. Then, put it in a larger envelope, and send it to:

Postmaster,
Valentine Re-mailing,

Valentine, TX 79854.

The post office will re-mail the valentines it receives, complete with the Valentine postmark, starting February 1.

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