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Catarina, Texas

Catarina is on U.S. Highway 83 ten miles southeast of Asherton in southern Dimmit County.

History

The name has been associated with the area since at least 1778; legend holds that it is the name of a Mexican woman killed by Indians on or near the site. The town was established after Asher Richardson, a rancher, decided to build a railway link from Artesia Wells to his planned town of Asherton. In return for an easement through the nearby Taft-Catarina Ranch, Richardson agreed to allow the ranch to establish a railroad depot, with cattle-shipping pens, on his railroad.

Street Scene, Catarina, Texas April 2, 1927
Street Scene, Catarina, Texas April 2, 1927, showing Catarina Hotel at right back

By 1910, when the Asherton and Gulf Railway began operations, these cattle pens had become the nucleus of a small community built by Joseph F. Green, the manager of the ranch. Green moved the ranch headquarters to the depot and added a bunkhouse, a commissary, a hotel, a post office, and a small schoolhouse. By 1915 the little town had twenty-five residents and had become famous in the area for the Taft House, an expensive mansion that Charles Taft, the owner of the ranch, supposedly built with oversized bathtubs to accommodate his brother, President William Howard Taft. Catarina Farms, a development project, built roads, sidewalks, and a waterworks and an impressive new hotel and installed electric power and a telephone exchange. Agent Charles Ladd imported entire orchards of fruit-laden citrus trees to impress prospective investors with the area's agricultural possibilities. By 1929 Catarina had between 1,000 and 2,500 residents, a bank, at least two groceries, a lumber company, and a bakery.  Continue Reading Catarina History from the Handbook of Texas Online >>

Catarina Hotel 2014 Photo from GoogleEarth

Catarina Hotel. Catarina grew around headquarters of the Sinton-Taft Ranch, later called Taft-Catarina Ranch. Kansas businessmen C.H. Kearny, J.E. Jarrett and H.V. Wheeler bought the ranch in the 1920s for development, attracting many buyers. By 1928, the town had approximately 2,500 residents and many businesses, including this hotel. In 1925-26, C.H. Kearny and Lee Peters designed and built the hotel in the Spanish Eclectic style, with features including tile roofs and mission elements, cast stone detailing, and a U-shaped plan with courtyard and fish pond. The building, which once also housed a bank, café, shops and offices, is a reminder of the town's boom era. - Recorded Texas Historic Landmark - 2002. Marker location: 19290 South US Hwy. 83, Catarina.

Photos

Dimmit County Postcards and Photographs >>

Resources

Location

28° 20' 43.98" N, 99° 36' 48.168" W