As a frigid Sunday night fell on Marfa, Texas and ice continued to freeze the electrical grid and plunge far west Texas into darkness, the Lost Horse Saloon opened its doors.
It was a welcomed discovery for many who rely on the grid for heat, as temperatures plummeted into the 20s.
One by one, folks filed into the bar enjoying beer by candlelight and pool by headlamp. Behind the scenes, owner Ty Mitchell was busy hooking up generators, in order to cook up chili and brisket in cast iron skillets.
When asked why he opened the bar, Mitchell replied, “Because I can. The world will crater without electricity. They just can’t live without it. Can’t buy drugs at the drug store. Hospitals can’t work on you. I got news: people are a lot older than electricity.”
Then he called out, “Alright everybody. Serve yourself. I’m tired.”
The generators were kept in steady fuel by local authorities. “It was the unofficial hospitality center,” quipped the county judge, Paul Hunt.
Carlos Lujan of Marfa, celebrating his birthday, got behind the DJ table. For a few hours at least, there was light and heat and community.
Jessica Lutz is a citizen reporter for KRTS, Marfa Public Radio.