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Welcome to Sanderson and Terrell County

Welcome to SandersonWelcome to Terrell County and Sanderson - the "Cactus Capital of Texas." Residents and officials alike strive to keep our existing quality of life and provide amenities and services that make Sanderson a wonderfully friendly place to visit.

Sanderson is the County Seat with a population currently of about 900. There are only 1,000 in the entire county. Dryden, 20 miles east, is the only other town in the county. About ten souls - plus a few goats and sheep - currently live there. Sanderson is approximately 3,000 feet above sea level. It is only 25-miles north of the U.S./Mexico border - although the nearest "legal" crossing is at Del Rio, 120 miles east. The town of Sanderson lies between beautiful canyons and enjoys a wonderful climate year-round. We have an exemplary public school, low crime and a low cost of living. And it's very quiet.

The native Apaches were one of the first peoples to inhabit Terrell County. By the time the railroad came through this area in the late 19th century, they had mostly been driven away by the U.S. Army forces stationed at Fort Lancaster to the northeast and Fort Davis to the west.

There are still many sites in the county that show evidence of these wonderful Native American tribes and their daily life. Pictographs, arrowheads and grind-holes can still be seen. Meyers Spring is one of the best-known pictograph sites in the area. It is currently a National Heritage Site.

Railroad surveyors reached what we now know as Sanderson in 1881. It was originally called Strobridge after the president of the then railroad construction company. In this harsh and desolate canyon country, there were only early sheep and cattle ranchers. But with the combination of the railroad and the early the sheep and cattle industries, Sanderson thrived for a time.

Terrell County was created by the Texas Legislature in 1905. About 1,500,000 acres of land was sectioned off from Pecos County.

Rail damage, 1965The population decline began after the Interstate Highway 10 was built. Prior to that, U.S. Highway 90 was the main route to points east and west. In 1965, a devastating flood took 27 lives. Homes and buildings were destroyed or damaged and even highway bridges and the railroad suffered major damage. The town slowly recovered after the tragic loss but the population did not. The Southern Pacific railroad moved the crew-base from the Sanderson terminal in 1995 and this took many families out of Sanderson.

The number of large ranches have also since declined. The primary land use still is ranching but many ranchers have found new revenue sources from recreation and hunting. The County and School district are the largest employers. The Border Patrol is expanding its operations and this means that more people and families are moving in. Tourism is on the increase, which adds enormously to the economy.

If you are thinking about moving from the big city and enjoying a change of pace - almost a return to the lifestyle of the 1950's - consider moving to Sanderson. We always welcome guests and travelers alike.



Page updated: March 21, 2005

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