VAN HORN MOUNTAINS
VAN HORN MOUNTAINS. The Van Horn Mountains begin nine miles southwest of Van Horn in southeastern Hudspeth County and stretch sixteen miles southeast, across southwestern Culberson County and into northwestern Jeff Davis County (their center point is 30°42' N, 104°50' W). The highest elevation in the Van Horn Mountains is 5,565 feet above sea level. The surrounding rugged terrain is surfaced by shallow, stony soils that support post oak, live oak, piñon, juniper, chaparral, and grasses. The mountains, like the town of Van Horn, were named after Lt. James Judson Van Horn, who commanded a garrison at nearby Van Horn Wells from 1859 to 1861. The Van Horn Mountains have been fertile ground for minerals. The Hazel Mine, opened in 1856 by Thomas Owen or Owens, yielded over a million pounds of copper between 1891 to 1947 and more than two million ounces of silver over a similar period (see COPPER PRODUCTION, and SILVER MINING). When the price of silver rose in the early 1970s, exploration began near the old Plata Verde mine, but it ceased in the early 1980s when the price of silver dropped again. A mica quarry operated briefly in the Van Horns in the early 1980s.