Texas Town Boasts The Best Climate
By Randall Hackley
SIERRA BLANCA, Texas (AP)
Times Union - Jan 26, 1983
Forget frost-free Key West, Fla., and the tropical lure of Hawaii. The world’s finest weather is not in those places.
It’s in Sierra Blanca, this West Texas town boasts.
"Our weather is pretty close to perfect," says "Dogie" Wright, former Texas Ranger and Hudspeth County sheriff.
Residents agree: "I rate it terrific," says secretary Brenda Bullock. "I’d have 12 feet of snow right now if I was back in Schenectady (N.Y.)."
It’s a sparkling clear day in the mid-40s, and a dusting of snow from a surprise storm that struck Christmas Day still lingers.
But no one here lingers long in his or her assessment of the Sierra Blanca climate.
"Climate is one of our finest assets, something we feel we can vie with El Paso and most cities in the Southwest," says Beth Sweiven, head of the Local Chamber of Commerce.
It was Chamber of Commerce honchos who baked up the world’s best climate concoction: Crudely painted billboards placed along. both sides of Intertate-10 proclaim Sierra Blanca as the site of the world’s best climate.
"We need something to attract people," Mrs. Sweiven says. "We hoped this would attract people from the East and West."
She says that monthly temperature medians compiled nationwide from popular resort centers prove Sierra Bianca year- round has better climate than anywhere else.
Key West, the southernmost city in the continental United States and famed for its frost-free weather, hardly compares to Sierra Blanca, Wright says. The same applies to Mauna Kai near Kona, Hawaii, which banker David Rockefeller claims has the best climate on Earth.
"We decided to come up with a logo," Mrs. Swelven says.
But isn’t the world’s finest climate a little pretentious?
"We do have dust storms and some wind," admits secretary Juanita Ramirez. "And this year has gotten awful cold."
But citizens say the town’s 4,500- foot altitude and an average of 11 inches of rain per year makes its climate benevolent, especially when the rest of the Southwest sweats each summer.
"It never gets too hot or too cold," says Wright, at 81 the dean of the town. "I do remember once around 1947 when it got 20 degrees below zero from a bad storm. Killed eight big trees around the courthouse overnight."
The courthouse is the largest structure in Sierra Blanca now that the Palace Hotel is closed and boarded up. The town also houses a border patrol office, has an aged railroad depot and two residential developments.
But Mile High and Country Club Estates seem almost lost on the high plains around Sierra Blanca.
A 7,000-foot mountain devoid of trees — Sierra Blanca, or White Mountain, hovers near the town.
Country Club Estates, with 18 homes planted around a yellowed 9-hole golf course, is touted as the site where the town can expand.
But the town has lost about two-thirds of its population since it was founded as a railroad transportation center in 1881. The Southern Pacific and the Texas and Pacific railroads met here 101 years ago to connect railroads for the first time between coasts.
A silver spike was driven into the ground by business tycoon Jay Gould to commemorate the occasion, but officials here say their historical thunder was stolen when El Paso claimed the railroads were first connected about 90 miles away in that far West Texas city.
"But we were first," says Mrs. Sweiven.
Sierra Blanca is also first among pretenders to the world’s climate crown, she insists.
"About the only thing I can find wrong with the weather is the dust storms," says Wright. "We’re high and dry and that makes everyone healthier."
The locals have few unhealthy things to say about the town.
"I wish we had some sidewalks - that’s what this town needs," says Ms. Ramirez.
"Who can complain too much when we get all this sunshine?" Wright asks.