Langtry, Texas facts for kids

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Langtry, Texas
Unincorporated community
Main Street in Langtry
Main Street in Langtry
Country United States
State Texas
County Val Verde
Elevation 1,289 ft (393 m)
Population (2016)
 • Total 12
Time zone Central (CST) (UTC-6)
 • Summer (DST) CDT (UTC-5)
ZIP codes 78871
Area code 915
GNIS feature ID 1377171, 2034106

Langtry is an unincorporated community in Val Verde County, Texas, United States. The community is notable as the place where Judge Roy Bean, the "Law West of the Pecos", had his saloon and practiced law.

History

Langtry was originally established in 1882 by the Southern Pacific Railroad as a grading camp called "Eagle Nest." It was later renamed for George Langtry, an engineer and foreman who supervised the immigrant Chinese work crews building the railroad in the area.

Roy Bean arrived soon after completion of the railroad and set up a tent saloon on company land. He later built a wooden structure for his saloon, which he called "The Jersey Lilly" after the well-known British stage actress Lillie Langtry. She was a native of the island of Jersey. (Born with the surname Le Breton, she was not related to George Langtry.) Bean used the saloon as his headquarters when authorized as a justice of the peace and notary public. He called himself the "Law West of the Pecos." After a notable career as justice of the peace, Bean died in 1903.

In 1884 the town was authorized a post office. In 1892 it had a general store, a railroad depot, and two saloons. Langtry began to decline after the highway was moved slightly north in the early 1900s for a more direct east-west route. Once bypassed, the town's businesses lost revenue and jobs. When in the 1920s Southern Pacific moved its facilities away, more jobs were lost and the town population dwindled to 50.

By the 1970s the population dipped as low as 40. Tourism to the Judge Roy Bean Visitor Center continues to keep the town alive.

In 1955, Robert Burton Willingham claimed an unidentified flying object (UFO) crashed along the south bank of the Rio Grande, just a few hundred feet into Mexico. The incident came to be known as the Del Rio, Texas UFO Crash. Willingham, a former Air Force Reserve pilot, stated that he was flying a North American F-86 Sabre jet fighter when he observed a UFO streak past him and crash near Langtry. No local residents have been located who could confirm Willingham's story.

Popular culture

  • The Westerner (1940), a film featuring Walter Brennan as Judge Roy Bean and Gary Cooper as a fictional interloper. It repeated the myth of the town's being named for Lillie Langtry.
  • Lillie (1978), a TV mini-series about Lillie Langtry produced by Britain's London Weekend Television (LWT), also related the myth of the Texas town's name.
  • Judge Roy Bean (1955–56) a western television series set in Langtry but filmed in Pioneertown, California, aired in syndication with Edgar Buchanan in the title role. The supporting cast included Jack Buetel, Jackie Loughery, and Russell Hayden.
  • The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean (1972), a film set in Langtry and starring Paul Newman, sparked new interest in Texas history.
  • The Other Roswell: UFO Crash on the Texas-Mexico Border (2008), non-fiction book about a reported UFO crash at Langtry, Texas in 1955.
  • The town plays a major role in R.A. Lafferty's science-fiction novel, Fourth Mansions.
  • Langtry is mentioned in the Cormac McCarthy novel No Country for Old Men. It is implied that Langtry could be the hometown of the novel's protagonist, Llewelyn Moss.
  • Langtry and the surrounding area have long been favorite hunting grounds for legions of amateur and professional herpetologists looking for a variety of reptiles endemic to the area.

Gallery


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