Last updated Wednesday, July 21, 2004
CLICK on this link below to view the HISTORIC MAPS:
Historic MAPS OF TERLINGUA AND BIG BEND AREA, 1827 - 1955
TERLINGUA DISTRICT, TEXAS
Terlingua community residents, when out traveling, will tell you they live in Terlingua, Texas.
But in this very remote area, the community is spread out over a fairly large territory, and no borders are defined.
However, when they are back home in the desert, since we don't have street numbers, or hardly even any streets,
(mostly dirt roads), the Terlingua residents refer to a local descriptive area, such as historic mines, creeks,
gates, mountains, buttes, or ranches. (Then some ranches are so large that communites inside the ranch
use these descriptive names.) Slowly street signs have been appearing but as yet, most of these don't
appear on maps.
Earlier in the early 20th century, the communities that sprung up were defined by the mine that was near, or some
other geographical description, such as a creek. In the last 25 to 30 years, tourism has brought
in a new boom of communities, and even though the locals still use older mine names to define a certain
area of the Terlingua area, the area of Terlingua is vast. To many, Terlingua is still a territory, still somewhat
of a wild frontier, with history carved and notched deep in the memories of cliffs and valleys of the
Terlingua Creek watershed. One cannot help but be reminded of the ranches that existed around this great
creek, and springs that were on both sides of it that providing havens for Ranch and Farm families.
A little higher elevations in the limestone and Igneous outcrops later provided another prosperous era, the
mining of mercury. By studying the facts of history, the old maps, and old books that were published much
earlier than today , one can truly get a glimpse of what the varied and interesting life was like that circled around
the wide territory of Terlingua.
Early books from the mining era, recall Terlingua Abaja (now ruins in the Big Bend National Park) as the first village
of Terlingua, that was abandoned soon after the mining era began. Other early pioneers such as Walter Fulcher
in "The Way I Heard It",* wrote that the Mexican population of the earlier part of the 20th century still called Terlingua
Abaja , plain "Terlingua". Early in the mining era, when the population exploded, the Post Office moved around
a few times, and whereever the Post office was, that tended to be called Terlingua. The Ghost Town (of the Chisos
Mine) was a mining village owned by the Perry back then, but according to Walter Fulcher, the Mexicans called that village
"Chisos", up to the time it closed.
C. W. Hawley's "Life Along The Border"** is a personal account of his life in both mining villages,
(Chisos Mining Co., and Mariposa Mining Co.),
where he was
the store clerk and Terlingua, Texas, postmaster. When the Chisos Mine closed in the late 40's, and
the village was abandoned, the P.O. moved to Terlingua Creek, Fulcher Ranch, circa 1949. Later
it was moved to where Tivo's Mexican Cafe is now. In the mid 90's it moved to its present location, on 118, near
the "Y", north of Study Butte. (see more info about this on the history
page: Terlingua History ).
Study Butte is well inside of
the Terlingua District, the far Eastern border is North of Indian Head Mountain. The map is
interesting, and the original edition should be proudly displayed at the local Post Office and Bank.
Even though Terlingua is not incorporated, and there are no borders defining where Terlingua is, other than State Highway
signs indicating number of miles to it, (and away from it), the Terlingua District was officially surveyed and
named in 1902 by the Department of the Interior.
The above link to the map is a surveyed map by the Department of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey. The
Title of the Survey Maps are:
Terlingua Special Map
Edition of Nov. 1902
Terlingua District, Tex
Edition of 1902
E.M. Douglas, Geographer in Charge
Trangulation by Arthur Stiles
Surveyed in 1902 in cooperation with
The University of Texas Mineral Survey
Corners of the map show these survey latitude and longitude
NE corner 103'30
SE corner 29'17'30
NW corner 103'45'
SW corner 29'17'30'
The NE corner is on the North East part of Willow Mountain
The SE corner is below Dawson Creek in the Big Bend National Park
The NW corner is above Lowes Valley, to the NW of Black Mesa
The SW corner is below Amarilla Mt.
The above map in the original edition of 1902 is available at the General Land Office,
Map 482, $20, and shows Terlingua to be at the Mariposa Mine, unlike in the 1929 version, which is at the Chisos Mine.
* Walter Fulcher's THE WAY I HEARD IT, edited by Elton Miles, of Alpine
Texas, and published by the University of Texas Press, 1959. The book is out of print, but check with Front Sreet
Books in Alpine for possibly a recent edition. Walter Fucher came to the Big Bend in 1912 at the age of 25, and
worked as a cowboy, was a fluent speaker of the local Mexican language, and worked most of his life with his Mexican cowboy
and rancher friends. He writes about how history facts gets corrupted, and states how things were back in
the early days of Big Bend and Terlingua area.
**C. A. Hawley's self published "LIFE ALONG THE BORDER", written in the mid part of the
century when he was 85 years of age, recalling his early life in the Big Bend, (early 1900's), working for the Mariposa
Mine and the Chisos Mine. His recollections of these early days are most interesting, and show how the name of
Terlingua was the name of the village that he took his first job, at the Mariposa Mine. This book is also out of print,
but hopefully will someday be reprinted for the sake of personal documentation of history in Big Bend.