Horsehead Crossing

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Horsehead Crossing
Horsehead Crossing, TX DSCN1061.JPG
Horsehead Crossing as it appears in 2014
Type Ford
Location Pecos County, Texas
Nearest city Girvin, Texas
Coordinates 31°14′08″N 102°29′02″W / 31.235556°N 102.483889°W / 31.235556; -102.483889Coordinates: 31°14′08″N 102°29′02″W / 31.235556°N 102.483889°W / 31.235556; -102.483889
Elevation 2,316 feet (706 m)
Governing body State of Texas
Official name: Horsehead Crossing on the Pecos River
Designated 1936
Marker Number 2564
Atlas Number 5371002564
Horsehead Crossing is located in Texas
Horsehead Crossing
Location within Texas

Horsehead Crossing is a ford on the Pecos River in Crane County, southeast of Odessa, Texas.[1] Historically, it was a major landmark on the trail west as one of a few fordable sections of the Pecos in West Texas, and as the first reliable source of water for about 75 miles on the route from the east.[2]

The location as marked by a state historical marker is 31°14' N, 102°29' W, though debate exists as to possible alternate locations in that area.[3][4] U.S. Geological Survey locates it at 31°14′08″N 102°29′02″W / 31.23556°N 102.48389°W / 31.23556; -102.48389.[5]


Brush landscape near Horsehead Crossing

Horsehead Crossing was the primary crossing on the Pecos for the Comanche Trail from the Llano Estacado south to Mexico. It was probably a prehistoric crossing by earlier Native Americans.

The ford was mapped in 1849 by Randolph B. Marcy, commander of an army escort for parties on their way to California on the San Antonio-El Paso Road. In 1858, the crossing became an important stop on the Butterfield Overland Mail route from St. Louis to San Francisco.[2] In 1866, Charles Goodnight and Oliver Loving blazed their famous cattle trail, which came to this point and turned upriver.

Decline of cattle drives and completion of two railroads across west Texas in the early 1880s led to the abandonment of the crossing.

Source of the name "Horsehead" has been attributed to horse skulls said to have marked the banks. This may have been due to Comanches who marked the crossing for easier identification, or the abundance of animals that died at the crossing from drowning, quicksand, or over-drinking while being driven along the Comanche Trail returning from Mexico.[2]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Patrick Dearen, Castle Gap and the Pecos Frontier, Texas Christian University Press, 1988
  2. ^ a b c "Horsehead Crossing". Handbook of Texas Online. Retrieved 2013-02-09. 
  3. ^ "Horsehead Crossing on the Pecos River - Girvin ~ Marker Number: 2564". Texas Historic Sites Atlas. Texas Historical Commission. 1936. 
  4. ^ Julie Breaux, Bits & pieces reveal history near Pecos River crossing, Austin American Statesman, 15 October 1998
  5. ^ U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: Horsehead Crossing

External links[edit]