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West Texas

It’s time to blow out the candles. Big Bend National Park — home to 800,000 acres of sweeping Chihuahuan desert landscapes, imposing mountains, wiry cacti and an international boundary in the Rio Grande — is turning 75.

Associated Press

Facebook is building a massive solar farm in West Texas that's believed to be one of the largest solar projects in the nation and the social media giant's first direct investment in renewable energy.

From Texas Standard:

Many Millennials, who are often saddled with student debt and face a sometimes shaky job market, have put off large purchases like homes. But that’s not the case in Midland.

In this Friday, March 22, 2019 photo, Allan Votaw, 66, pauses as he recalls and describes the years of abuse he suffered at the Cal Farley's Boys Ranch during an interview at this home in Kingston, Okla.
Associated Press

When Allan Votaw stepped onto Cal Farley's Boys Ranch in Texas in 1957, the 5-year-old hoped he and his two brothers — ages 3½ and 6 — had found a home. Instead, the now-66-year-old says, they found a "horror house" where sadistic staff members whipped children until they were bruised and bloody and children were molested by older kids.

Since then more men have come forward, but the reckoning some had hoped for hasn't happened. 

The space travel company Blue Origin – owned by Amazon’s Jeff Bezos – launched its New Shepard rocket for the second time this year at its West Texas facility Thursday morning.

Multinational oil giant Chevron will buy the American oil and gas production and exploration company Anadarko Petroleum in a $33 billion cash-and-stock deal that strengthens Chevron's position in the booming Permian Basin.

Despite objections from students and faculty, the University of Texas System Board of Regents on Tuesday unanimously approved Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson as the University of Texas El Paso's new president.

Before the vote, Board Chairman Kevin Eltife said he was confident Wilson would "do an outstanding job." 

An iconic spring-fed swimming pool in West Texas that closed last year for repairs has reopened following $2 million in upgrades.

The congregation of about 1,700 Central American migrants in Piedras Negras, Mexico, this week sparked a swift response from the U.S. Hundreds of Army soldiers and law enforcement personnel tightened security measures in Eagle Pass. Residents accustomed to easy passage between two nations now experience long waits on the bridges, body searches, diminished commerce, and unease over the sudden show of armed force in their small town.

The Davis Mountains of West Texas
Sally Beauvais / Marfa Public Radio

Next year, West Texas may become home to a new festival.

Marfa Mayor Ann Marie Nafziger announced at Thursday’s City Council meeting that the organizers hope 5,000 people will attend. That’s more than double the size of Marfa’s population, as well as its largest annual festival, the Trans-Pecos Festival of Music and Love at El Cosmico.

How One Tiny School District In Rural West Texas Is Making It Work

Feb 1, 2019
Rebekah Oñate is the youngest teacher at Valentine Independent School District. Eighty percent of her colleagues are old enough to retire.
Sally Beauvais, Marfa Public Radio

From Marfa Public Radio:

In the tiny West Texas town of Valentine, population 130, there’s no gas station, and it’s a 30-mile drive to the nearest grocery store. But there is a school, and somehow, year after year, it outperforms the state average in academics.

The spring-fed pool, photographed in 2006, at Balmorhea State Park has been closed since last May.
Associated Press

An oil and gas company operating in West Texas has donated $1 million to reach the fundraising goal for repairs to what's touted as the world's largest spring-fed swimming pool.

Jessica Quintanilla, a hydrologist for the Edwards Aquifer Authority, sloshes back onto shore in her black waterproof boots from the middle of this creek just off Scenic Loop Road, south of Grey Forest.

“Next, we have to set up the peristaltic pump,” she said, as she inserts the white, quarter-inch tube she dragged 15 feet back to shore from her water sensor, before flipping on a generator and starting the pump.


On the High Plains in West Texas, hot winds blast through cotton fields as far as the eye can see.

In the middle of it all is a tiny vineyard.

Andis Applewhite is the owner. She's an artist whose family has worked this land for a century. They once planted crops more typical of the neighborhood, like cotton and wheat. Applewhite decided to try something different: She put in a couple of acres of cabernet franc grapes.

From Texas Standard.

Out in the sand dunes of west Texas, a tiny lizard has been wrapped up in a big controversy for years. The four-inch long dunes sagebrush lizard calls the middle of the Permian Basin home, but conservationists have long feared the oil boom there would be detrimental to the lizard’s rare habitat. But in the past year, a new threat has emerged.

From Texas Standard.

Does the Wink Sink ring any bells for you? It is, as the name implies, a pair of giant sinkholes near the town of Wink, located about 60 miles west of Odessa. One of the reasons why they’re remarkable is that they’re unique, though that may not always be the case.

Large Portions Of West Texas Sinking At Alarming Rate, New Report Finds

Mar 23, 2018
Rafael Aguilera

Nearly two years after a pair of giant West Texas sinkholes gained national attention, new research in the area shows they likely won't be the last in the region.

Untapped: The New West Texas

Nov 16, 2017

This piece is Part 1 of our Untapped series about the new West Texas.

The Permian Basin in West Texas leads the nation in oil and gas production. Midland and Odessa have long been the heart of this industrialized desert. But oil and gas development is expanding outward. In the past year, drilling operations have moved south and west into a region long written off as undevelopable.

Blue Origin / YouTube

The commercial space company Blue Origin carried out another successful test flight from West Texas on Wednesday. The firm owned by billionaire Amazon founder Jeff Bezos expected its reusable rocket to be destroyed during the test, but instead, it landed safely back on Earth for the fifth time.

West Texas Site Wants Nation's Spent Nuclear Fuel

Feb 11, 2015
David Bowser / The Texas Tribune

Texas’ only radioactive waste dump wants to open its gates to tens of thousands of metric tons of spent nuclear reactor fuel now scattered across the country.

Sarah Fields Photography / Shutterstock

The largest federally-owned wind farm is about to be built at the Pantex Plant in Amarillo, Texas, the Department of Energy (DOE) announced today. The five-turbine project will power more than 60 percent of the plant once it is complete.