Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Tipis picnic area

Tuesday we took a break from Big Bend NP and went the other direction to Big Bend Ranch State Park.   Enroute we drove through Terlingua a ghost town. 

Krikkit had stayed home for 2 days while we hiked at Big Bend NP.  Dogs are only allowed where vehicles go and they aren't allowed on any trails.  At the State Park they are allowed on only 2 trails, neither of which would accommodate her buggy.  We decided to forgo hiking today (we were still a little sore from yesterday's hike anyway) and take her for a scenic drive through the ghost town (she could protect us from any spirits) and the State Park.

Terlingua is a ghost town but in 2010 still had a population of 58.  Interspersed between the ruins of the former mining town you will find a few small houses and fewer businesses.  In the late 1800's Cinnabar, the ore from which the mineral mercury or quicksilver is extracted, was found in the Big Bend area.  In 1903 the Chisos mining Co. was founded and became the largest supplier.  By the end of WWI the need for mercury/quicksilver decreased and by the end of WWII the mine was closed.  Terlingua had been a town with all of the essential businesses for the miners.

The Terlingua cemetery is a simple one.  The graves date back to 1903.  Fatal mining accidents were pretty regular, miners succumbed to "salivation," a form of mercury poisoning, and they were hit by the flu of 1918-1919. Because it is rocky most bodies were buried under stones, not underground.

We took the main State Park road as all other roads were 4-wheel drive only.  Being use to Midwest State Parks, beautiful as they are, this seemed overwhelming.  My first impression was that it was more on the scale of a National Park.  It was in the 70's and a gorgeous day for a drive.  

This remote park has mountains, canyons, great views, and amazing night skies in a desert setting.  It is along the Rio Grande River on the U. S./Mexico border.  At one time it was one of the largest 15 ranching operations in the U. S.  It is beautiful!

Robin, one of the campground hosts, recommended that we pick up a box lunch from here before heading to the State Park.

It has been designated as a "Dark Sky Park," with fantastic views of the night sky.

It was about 20 miles from our campground to Big Bend Ranch State Park.  The road through the park from the Barton Warnock Visitor's Center to the West Entrance was about 30 miles (total guess) and we turned around and repeated the route when we left.

There are some very rugged mountains.

The Rio Grande River divides the U. S. and Mexico.  Some areas of the river are narrow and shallow enough to cross.  Their is a sign warning of a $5,000 fine for anyone crossing over to Mexico, however.

We enjoyed a shared box lunch at the Tipis picnic area.

The "Streets of Laredo,"  1995, had scenes filmed at the area in the picture below.

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