Eagle's Nest

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Langtry is on Loop 25 off U.S. Highway 90 just north of the Rio Grande and eight miles west of the Pecos River near the southwestern corner of Val Verde County. In 1882 the Southern Pacific line established a grading camp near the Eagle Nest crossing of the Rio Grande to facilitate joining with the Galveston, Harrisburg and San Antonio Railway at the site of Langtry. The camp, at first called Eagle Nest, was renamed in honor of George Langtry, an engineer and foreman who had supervised a Chinese work crew building the railroad. Cezario Torres, one of the original commissioners of Pecos County, and his Torres Manufacturing and Irrigation Company owned most of the land beside the railroad right-of-way in Langtry, but a tent-saloon operator named Roy Bean arrived from another camp and squatted on part of the railroad land. Torres's unsuccessful attempt to keep Bean out precipitated a long-running rivalry between Bean and Torres's son Jesús. Nonetheless, Bean's establishment immediately attracted numerous railroad workers, and disorder mounted in Langtry. Bean was justice of the peace of Langtry for nearly twenty years, and dozens of legends still circulate about him. One story has it that he named the town in honor of a beautiful English singer, Emilie (Lillie) Langtry, after he fell in love with her picture in the newspaper. Though he could not have named the town, Bean did call his saloon the Jersey Lilly in honor of the singer.

After the east and west sections of the railroad joined in January 1883, the depot kept business brisk by supplying a constant flow of customers to local saloons and by furnishing a shipping point for agricultural products and supplies. In 1884 the Langtry post office opened, and the town's business interests expanded. W. H. Dodd, a resident and future justice of the peace, reported that by 1892 Langtry had a "population of possibly 150, who lived mostly in tents," as well as Dodd's store, two saloons-one operated by Bean and the other owned by Torres-and the railroad depot and refueling station. Bean later opened an opera house in anticipation of a visit by Lillie Langtry, who in 1904, only a few months after Bean's death, did actually visit the town. In 1896 the world-championship boxing match between Peter Mahar of Ireland and Bob Fitzsimmons of Australia took place near Langtry through the secret machinations of Roy Bean. Because the state and Mexican governments had prohibited the fight, Bean arranged to hold it on the Mexican side of the Rio Grande, knowing the Mexican authorities could not conveniently reach the site. The spectators arrived aboard a chartered train; after a profitable delay contrived by Bean, the crowd witnessed Fitzsimmons's defeat of Mahar.

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Lea Anne Morrell | © TSHA

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Adapted from the official Handbook of Texas, a state encyclopedia developed by Texas State Historical Association (TSHA). It is an authoritative source of trusted historical records.

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Eagle's Nest is part of or belongs to the following places:

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Place type

Eagle's Nest is classified as a Town

Associated Names

  • [Eagle -]
  • (Langtry)

Has Post Office


Is Incorporated