Llano Estacado
The Llano Estacado

The Llano Estacado includes an area some 210 miles from north to south, and 180 miles from east to west, at its widest points. A domain of twenty million acres - fifteen million of which are in Texas and the remaining five million in New Mexico - and, of this. probably nineteen million acres could be classed as adapted to cultivation, and practically every acre underlaid, at a depth of forty to three hundred~ feet, with an inexhaustible supply of water. (Ironically, geology reveals that thousands of years ago the basin was really a great body of water and today, beneath its flow of liquid gold, are innumerable lakes and streams.)

The version that is most believed of the origin of the name Llano Estacado (the "staked plains") is as follows: In 1541, during the exploration of Vasquez de Coronado, who tra- versed its length in search of the "Seven Cities of Gold," the men, at intervals along the way, drove guide stakes that they might return without being lost on the uncharted pampas, then a sea of sameness. This method is said to have been used also by the Spaniards in establishing trails that would guide them from the early missions at San Antonio to those of northern New Mexico, beyond the land of the Pecos.

staked plain map
Texas map with the Llano Estacado, and early Rail Road routes.


Courtesy: Odessa: City of Dreams,
by Velma Barrett and Hazel Oliver
Published in 1952
updated: July 1, 1998