Unique Texas town names: Eagle Pass, Quemado, Quihi

How did these South Texas towns get their names?

SAN ANTONIO – It is time, once again, to ask the question: How did that Texas town get its name?

Eagle Pass

We begin this journey at Fort Duncan, which sits near downtown Eagle Pass.

"We had 16,000 to 17,000 troops here during World War I,” said Jeff Taylor, curator of the Fort Duncan Museum.

It is a former military installment with a rich history. Record-breaking pilot Charles Lindbergh even landed at Fort Duncan in 1929. Now a museum, it holds the story of how Eagle Pass got its name. The story dates back to 1849 when troops first arrived at the Rio Grande to protect against raids.

"They pitched their tents in the formation of the spread eagle wings and they named it Camp Eagle Pass,” Taylor said.

While the military installment would later change its name to Fort Duncan, Eagle Pass stuck for those who settled in the area.

It is not the only theory, however. Indigenous people and others in Mexico cite legends involving the Mexican eagle, a species frequently seen flying in the area, as the origin of the name.


Just north of Eagle Pass sits the small town of Quemado.

For those who don't speak Spanish, here is a simple translation: "Quemado means burned,” explained longtime resident John Stockley.

A quick trip through the small town reveals nothing that looks charred. So how exactly did the town earn its name?

"It was because the Spaniards may have thought it was the remains of an old volcano,” said Stockley, describing just one of the theories.

Stockley admitted that was likely far-fetched. Stockley offered other theories, including one that claims an oil slick on Quemado Creek often caught fire. Others in town said it originated from fiery raids. Quemado may have also once had another name.

"Los Quemados,” Stockley said. “It means the ‘burned ones.’ Burned what? I don’t know."

One thing that is for sure is that the town is home to the corner of First and Amistad streets. It is the only such intersection in the country with that name. If it sounds familiar, it is because the phrase “at the corner of First and Amistad” was made popular by the 2009 hit song “You Found Me” by the Fray. The artists say it was all just a coincidence and not a reference to the town.


One hundred miles to the east sits the town of Quihi. It is home to the famous Quihi Gun Club and Dance Hall.

According to those who live there, it is the oldest continuously operated gun club and dance hall in the in the United States.

"The Gun Club was established in 1890,” said Clyde Muennink, secretary-treasurer of the Quihi Gun Club and Dance Hall.

It was opened after the town got its name. The story behind it dates back to 1844 during a meeting between area Germans and Native Americans.

"There was a bird that flying around that kept saying something like, 'qee-hee, qee-hee.' Well, the Native Americans came up with that it was Quihi," Muennink said.

The name stuck and the rest is history.

About the Author:

Justin Horne is a meteorologist and reporter for KSAT 12 News. When severe weather rolls through, Justin will hop in the KSAT 12 Storm Chaser to safely bring you the latest weather conditions from across South Texas. On top of delivering an accurate forecast, Justin often reports on one of his favorite topics: Texas history.