SIERRA BLANCA, Tex.— There is not much here anymore, if there was ever much of anything to begin with. The town's main street is coated in dust, and the old movie house is long shuttered. The one sign of activity -- the traffic moving along elevated Interstate 10 -- is a reminder that the modern world rarely stops here.

The other reminder can be found on the outskirts of this tiny town, where freight cars are being unloaded for the last time. The last sludge train from New York City arrived this month, leaving its last shipment of what officials describe as ''bio-solids'' but what others call treated sewage.

The dump in Sierra Blanca, one of the biggest sludge dumps in the world, is going out of business.

''We've survived before without it, and I'm sure we still will,'' said James A. Peace, the Hudspeth County judge and the area's highest elected official.

The news came unexpectedly in June and was greeted with a mixed response in this town of 600 people in the vast, empty country about 90 miles southeast of El Paso. For local critics and environmentalists who have fought the sludge operation and recent efforts to build a nuclear waste dump here, it is a long-awaited victory. For others, it is an economic blow, resulting in the loss of 40 jobs and the planned closing of the town's biggest private employer.

''A lot of people are going to be hunting jobs,'' said Kay Scarbrough, the county tax assessor, ''and there are not any jobs here.''

It is hard to imagine places more different than New York and Sierra Blanca, and the contrast has always underscored the mercenary marriage between the nation's largest city and the small town where it has dumped its sewage since 1992. That year, after Congress had prohibited the city from dumping its sludge in the Atlantic Ocean, New York signed contracts with several companies to treat and transport its sewage. One of them was a Long Island joint venture, which began shipping up to 250 tons every day on the 2,065-mile journey to West Texas. The Texas Observer, the political journal, recently called it ''the poo-poo choo-choo.''

The Long Island company, Merco, had first sought a site in Oklahoma, but after meeting resistance there learned about a failed resort called the Mile High Ranch in Sierra Blanca. The company purchased the 81,000-acre area so that the treated sludge could be spread on ''application areas'' as if it were fertilizer. The company rotates the areas of land chosen to absorb the sludge.

Environmentalists and critics immediately accused Texas officials of ramming the project through approval. They have long argued that the sludge has exposed the area to health risks and other problems. Texas Tech University has studied the project and has found no evidence of contamination.

''If there was ever a case of environmental injustice, Sierra Blanca was it,'' said Bill Addington, an outspoken critic who also runs a general store in town. Two years ago, Mr. Addington helped fight plans to build a nuclear waste dump in Sierra Blanca, and he considered the closing of the Merco operation a bittersweet victory. ''This material has polluted a very large area that used to be pristine,'' Mr. Addington said.

But Tom Gillane, Merco's local operations manager, said all the sludge shipments had been carefully tested to prevent contamination and had met environmental standards under New York law. He dismissed the local stories of three-legged deer as the rural equivalents of urban legends and even said the project had helped the environment.

''We're enhancing the natural grass growth,'' Mr. Gillane said. He added that two nearby ranches leased parts of the land so that cattle could graze on the grass. ''The majority of the people are very proud that this operation is here.''

There is an odor, although exactly how bad is a matter of interpretation. ''If we get a little rain and then a north breeze, then you can smell it here in town,'' Ms. Scarbrough said. ''It smells like a hog farm.''

Wayne West, who once shipped livestock for a living and now runs a local garage, was more charitable.''You're asking somebody who's been in the livestock transportation business all his life,'' Mr. West said, ''so to me it smells like money.''

No one in Sierra Blanca had any warning that after so many years and so much controversy, the sludge train would soon make its last stop.

Geoffrey Ryan, spokesman for the New York City Department of Environmental Protection, said the decision was based on economics and would save the city about $3 million a year. He said the city had exercised an option to cancel the Merco contract because New York could not generate enough sludge for all five of the companies that were contracted to handle its sludge. Merco, he said, was tied for the most expensive rate.

''It is simply a case where maintaining the five contracts was costing us $2 million to $3 million a year,'' Mr. Ryan said.

Merco will shut down in Sierra Blanca on Tuesday. Mr. Addington worried that the company could win another contract to store another city's sludge, but Mr. Gillane, the Merco manager, was skeptical.

Mr. Peace, the county judge, said the local school may lose 14 of its 120 students. He went to New York once and found it too big for his liking. But it speaks to the economic desperation of small, rural towns like Sierra Blanca that he would not mind if the sludge train kept coming.

Photo: Contents of sludge containers from New York City are emptied onto the grounds of the 81,000-acre Merco Ranch in Sierra Blanca in West Texas. (Bruce Berman for The New York Times) Map of Texas highlighting Sierra Blanca: Some of New York's sewage ended up in Sierra Blanca, Tex.