Vanishing Texas Vernacular Architecture


Orla Cafe & Grocery

Orla is far off the beaten path.  How far off, you might ask.  If you drive through Orla, you either work in the oil business or you are traveling between Pecos and Carlsbad, NM.  Distant though it may be, the trip to Orla was rewarding for this photographer.  There aren’t many locations in Lost, Texas where there are more than one or two extant abandoned buildings from multiple decades.  This was a delight to shoot.

Orla is on the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe line, U.S. Highway 285, and Farm Road 652, five miles southeast of Red Bluff in northwestern Reeves County. The name is Spanish for “border” and refers to the countryside around the settlement. Orla was established as a section house on the Pecos River Railroad in 1890. A post office was opened there in 1906. By 1933 Orla reported the post office, a business, and a population of ten. Its population remained at ten until after World War II, but the number of businesses increased to two in 1943. The town grew between the late 1940s and the 1950s, the population to forty and then to sixty, and the number of businesses to three. In the mid-1960s Orla became a rural oil supply center. By the end of the decade its population had reached 250, and it had twelve businesses. From 1970 through 2000 its population was reported at 183, and it had variously anywhere from one to sixteen businesses. In 1990 Orla still supplied equipment for production in nearby Permian Basin oilfields.

See other photographs of Orla on my website.

REFERENCE:  Julia Cauble Smith, “ORLA, TX,” Handbook of Texas Online ( Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

Orla Stores

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