Apelt Armadillo Farm
place and farm
Commemorated on 1 plaque
Texas Historical Marker #15777
Apelt Armadillo Farm. In the late 1890s, Charles Apelt (1862-1944) opened a unique commercial enterprise at this site. Apelt, a German immigrant came to Comfort in 1887 and worked as a farmer. Here he encountered the armadillo, an animal native to the Americas, and began to develop a commercial use for the mammal’s hard shell. Utilizing the nine-banded variety (Dasypus Novemcinctus) he soon opened the Armadillo Basket Factory. The novelty armadillo basket was a quick success; within its first six years of operation the Armadillo factory shipped 40,000 orders throughout the US and the world. In 1904 Apelt displayed his product at the St. Louis World’s Fair and by the 1920s the operation employed dozens of local hunters. At its height the establishment produced about 100 baskets each week, which sold for $2.50 each or $15 if decorated with silk, bows and beads. Apelt found additional functions for armadillo shells using them for floor and table lamps, desk sets and smoking stands. Some armadillos were captured live and sold to zoos, pet owners and research facilities; Apelt constructed an elaborate network of concrete burrows and tunnels in front of his home to meet the high demand for armadillos in medical research. Charles Apelt ran the farm until he died in 1944. His wife, Martha, continued to run the business, which closed when she died in 1947. The farm reopened in 1951 before again closing in 1971. During its years of operation, the farm was a significant source of employment in the area. Although it is no longer in operation, Apelt Armadillo Farm continues to be remembered for its production of distinctive and famed souvenirs.
111 Legacy Lane, Center Point, TX, United States where it sited