Salt Flat is on U.S. Highway 62/180 forty-three miles northeast of Sierra Blanca and fifteen miles southeast of Dell City in the northeastern Hudspeth County salt basin. The town began in 1928, when Ed Hammack learned that the new highway between El Paso and Carlsbad Caverns, New Mexico, was to pass through the area. He built a store and gas station on the proposed route, opening for business when traffic began in 1929. Shortly thereafter, Arthur Grable built another store and gas station a few hundred yards west. Eventually both men also opened cafes and tourist courts, and Hammack's store doubled as a bus station. In the early 1930s, after an American Airlines plane crashed in the nearby Guadalupe Mountains, the federal government built an emergency landing strip in Salt Flat so planes could land when fog enveloped the mountains. This airfield operated until the early 1960s, when new navigational equipment permitted planes to cross the mountains even in poor weather conditions. A post office was established in Salt Flat in 1941, replacing that in nearby Ables. Ben H. Gilmore was the first Salt Flat postmaster. In the early 1940s the estimated population of Salt Flat was twenty. The post office closed in 1945, but a second post office opened there in 1947. By the end of the 1940s Salt Flat had an estimated seventy residents, and in the early 1960s, an estimated 125. By 1970 its population had dropped to thirty-five, and it continued to be reported at that level through 2000. During the early 1980s Salt Flat had a handful of dwellings, the post office, a gas station, a cafe, and several abandoned buildings.
Support Texas History Now
Join TSHA to support quality Texas history programs and receive exclusive benefits.
The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.
Martin Donell Kohout, “Salt Flat, TX,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed January 17, 2021, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/salt-flat-tx.
Published by the Texas State Historical Association.