When I took this photograph in June 2010, there was loud music coming from the left side of the building leading me to believe that if they were drinking 7-Up (as advertised on the side of the building) they were mixing it with something stronger. This was confirmed when the door opened and a rough-looking guy yelled in my direction, “Hey, ya wanna drink?”. I declined politely and headed down the road to Marfa.
Valentine, the smaller of Jeff Davis County’s two towns, is on U.S. Highway 90 and the Southern Pacific Railroad in the southwestern part of the county, thirty-six miles west of Fort Davis. It was founded and named when the Southern Pacific Railroad crew, building east, reached the site on February 14, 1882. Trains began running the next year, and a post office was established in 1886. In 1890 Valentine had a population estimated at 100, two saloons, a general store, a hotel, and a meat market. Two years later only one saloon was left, but the population had risen to an estimated 140. Valentine became a shipping point for local cattle ranchers, and by 1914 the town had an estimated population of 500, five cattle breeders, a news company, a real estate office, a grocery store, a restaurant (pictured above), and the Valentine Business Club. In the late 1970s the town had an estimated population of 226, a high school, an elementary school, and two churches.
Apropos of its name, the Valentine Post Office involves the entire town in designing its annual postmark. Drawn by students at the Valentine school, the winner is selected by the City Council. Once approved by the Postal Service in San Antonio, the design is used for that year. Romantics from around the world send cards and letters to be postmarked by the Valentine Post Office every year.
REFERENCES: 1) Martin Donell Kohout, “VALENTINE, TX,” Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/hlv01). Published by the Texas State Historical Association. 2) Texas Escapes – http://www.texasescapes.com/TOWNS/ValentineTexas/ValentineTexas.htm