By U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas
With heart-shaped decorations popping up across storefronts throughout our state, Valentine’s Day is upon us. While the history and traditions behind this holiday date back many centuries, you won’t find anywhere that honors Valentine’s Day quite like the small West Texas town that shares the same name.
Nestled between Marfa and Van Horn, the city of Valentine, Texas finds its home in Jeff Davis County. How did it earn the lovely name? Well, there are a few different stories to explain the beloved town’s namesake. It’s been said that on Valentine’s Day, in 1882, the Southern Pacific Railroad crew built a water and fuel depot and named it Valentine. Others say the town of Valentine was established in late December of 1881 and named after John Valentine, a shareholder of the Southern Pacific Railroad.
In 1883, railroad operations were moving full steam ahead in Valentine. Within the next ten years, Valentine reached an estimated population of 100 and established a post office, general store, hotel, meat market, and two saloons. The Valentine railroad depot also provided a roundhouse to service trains, a boarding house for the crew, and a loading pen for cattle being shipped across the nation. From its founding until 1958, Valentine served as an important rail stop for ranchers and passengers alike.
In the 1950s, trucks became the main method of cattle transportation and combined with the advent of diesel locomotives these two factors had a serious impact on the Valentine railroad depot’s operations. By 1958, the depot terminated its daily passenger service.
In spite of the many changes the town of Valentine has seen, the Post Office, established in 1886, has remained busy – particularly during the month of February. For romantics looking to send their special valentine a little extra love, the Valentine Post Office offers a customized pictorial postmark. This time of year, the Valentine Post Office receives mail from folks around the globe who are looking for this extra stamp of love.
Although some Texans may call Valentine home year-round, this charming town welcomes visitors during the month of February to celebrate. On Feb. 14, the town of Valentine couples with the town of Alpine to host thousands of people from across the country to enjoy live music under the stars on the most romantic night of the year.
Valentine, Texas has played a role in thousands of couples’ love stories. Even if you’ve never been to Valentine’s or mailed a letter to its post office, you can celebrate your love of Texas no matter where you and your sweetheart spend this Valentine’s Day.
Senator John Cornyn, a Republican from Texas, is a member of the Senate Finance, Intelligence, and Judiciary Committees.