Big Bend National Park has one of the richest histories of all of the National Parks in the U. S.
Before becoming a National Park, Big Bend was a mining, ranching and farming community, with all sorts of interesting characters.
We’ve got a long way to go to get it done (it’s unlikely to ever be finished), but below is a list of the areas we’ve done some research on.
Dugout Wells – Once considered “the cultural center of the Big Bend,” all that remains of the small community that once thrived in this area is a solitary windmill, a shady area with some picnic tables and a short nature trail.
Luna’s Jacal – Off of Oil Maverick Road in the West Side of the park. This small wattle and daub structure was the home of Gilberto Luna, who lived and raised a family here with no air conditioning or running water, until the age of 109.
Mariscal Mine – Remote site, 19.4 miles past the East entrance to River Road, near the Rio Grande. One of the most recognizable mining sites in the Big Bend Area. Cinnabar (mercury ore) was mined here until just after World War II.
Sam Nail Ranch – The remnant of this homestead sits just off of Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive. One of the early ranchers in the area. Sam Nail Ranch is a popular spot for a quick hike and bird watching due to the abundance of water at the old homestead site.
The Dorgan-Sublett Grand Canyon Company – The Grand Canyon Company was formed by James L. Sublett and Albert W. Dorgan to farm the the Rio Grande Area near Castolon. This short trail will take you through their homestead where you can see the remnants of the historic ranch houses where they lived.