Marfa, Texas

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Marfa is a town in the high desert of far West Texas in the Southwestern United States. Located between the Davis Mountains and Big Bend National Park, it is also the county seat of Presidio County. The population was 2,121 at the 2000 census.

Marfa was founded in the early 1880s as a railroad water stop, and grew quickly through the 1920s. Marfa Army Airfield (Fort D.A. Russell) was located east of the town during World War II and trained several thousand pilots before closing in 1945 (the abandoned site is still visible ten miles (16 km) east of the city). The base was also used as the training ground for many of the U.S. Army's Chemical mortar battalions.

Despite its small size, today Marfa is a tourist destination. Attractions include the historical architecture and classic Texas town square, modern art at the Chinati Foundation and in galleries around town, and the Marfa lights.

Amateur etymologist Barry Popik has shown[where?] that Marfa is named after Marfa Strogoff, a character in the Jules Verne novel Michael Strogoff and its theatrical adaptation; the origin was reported in the Galveston Daily News on December 17, 1882, after the Marfa railroad station was established but before Marfa received a post office in 1883.

The Handbook of Texas states that the wife of a railroad executive reportedly suggested the name "Marfa" after reading the name in the Fyodor Dostoevsky novel The Brothers Karamazov.[3]


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