Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The Conquistadors of Hotel Cortez

In the heart of downtown El Paso, adjacent to the Plaza, there's a little surprise if you look up.  Just above street level, there's a series of portrait heads of conquistadors!

The Hotel Cortez, a Henry Trost building opened in 1926 and remained a hotel until 1970. Built in the Spanish Colonial Revival style, when it was opened, it was advertised as a "Castle of Old Spain on the Plaza of El Paso." 


Three hotels have been in this location.  The first, the elegant Vendrome Hotel hosted, among others, Annie Londonderry, the first woman to travel around the world by bicycle.  By 1899, the Vendrome was renamed the Hotel Orndorff, and later a new 11-story Hotel Orndorff was built on the same site in 1926.  A few years later, it was remaned the Hussman, and then the Hotel Cortez.  Since 1984, the building has housed offices.
Click to read!

Cortez Hotel Building today

Monday, February 27, 2012

Franklin Mountains State Park's JackRabbit Classic and View of Historic Trade Routes

From the top of the trail, a view of El Paso's historic valley, a significant historic trade route
Runners head up the mountain in yesteday's JackRabbit Classic Trail Run
Visitors to Franklin Mountains State Park, and yesterday's runners in the JackRabbit Classic Trail Run there, can get a terrific view of the historic upper valley connecting El Paso to New Mexico.

From the park's website, some history:
"Overlooking the Rio Grande, the Franklin Mountains are the northern ramparts of the Paso del Norte (Pass of the North), leading from Mexico into what is now the United States. For thousands of years, native Americans, and for the last four centuries, soldiers, priests, traders, adventurers, gold-seekers, entrepreneurs, and just plain folk have passed through the gap in both directions in an endless procession of expansion, settlement, raiding, and conquest. Native American groups made the area home, using the plant and animal resources of the Franklins for more than 12,000 years. These people left their marks in the Franklins - colorful pictographs on boulders and in rock shelters and deep mortar pits (used to grind seeds) in rock outcrops near scattered water sources. Beginning in the 1580s, less than a century after Columbus, Spanish conquistadors and priests passed beneath the peaks of the Franklins on their mission to conquer and colonize the Puebloan villages in present-day New Mexico." 

Read more about the historic El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro, here. 
The Butterfield Overland Mail Stagecoach Route also ran through the valley visible from the mountains.  Read more about the history of this route through El Paso, here.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Waiting for Governor Hobby to Arrive and Anniversary Parade, Van Horn, 1919

In 1919, Van Horn hosted an Anniversary Party to which Governor Hobby participated.  We don't know much more than this, so if anyone can fill in the blanks, please leave your thoughts in the comments!  These photos were taken just behind what's now the main street in Van Horn, behind what's now the Clark Hotel Museum!  (To get a closer view of the photos, click on them!)

Saturday, February 25, 2012

The beautiful light of Fort Leaton

The bright, clear blue of the sky and the light playing off the rough adobe walls of Fort Leaton makes this place near Presidio a photographer's dream.  And there's plenty of history to absorb too.  This is a state park facility, open for everyone to enjoy.  Their website says, "In 1848, Ben Leaton built a fortified adobe trading post known as Fort Leaton. He dominated border trade with the Apache and Comanche Indians before he died in 1851. In 1936, the Texas Centennial Commission placed a marker at the site."  Inside, there are interpretive exhibits that tell the story of the area, including the pre-history of the area, through Ben Leaton's day, to present day stories.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Waiting for the Train? Waiting for Excitement?

For many communities for many years, the train brought in the outside world.  We wonder...where these children waiting for excitement when they waited for the train to stop?  From the Clark Hotel Museum's collection of historic photographs of Van Horn.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

200 Miles to El Paso. 400 Miles to San Antonio. The Old Road.

An original stretch of the old San Antonio-El Paso road (also the Butterfield Overland Stage Route) still exists at Fort Davis National Historic Site.  Standing on the road, it is easy to imagine life when traveling through the west was arduous.  Imagine walking the route, or traveling by horseback, wagon or stagecoach.  Want to read more?  Check out this great handout for schoolkids on the road.

Imagining life at the Fort?  We've got a web special....pages you can visit throughout the day to relive the life of a soldier from the 1870s-1880s.  Start here.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The Shadows and the Cool of Santa Elena Canyon

Over time, the Rio Grande has cut a 1500 feet chasm in the rocks at Santa Elena, making an exciting river trip experience and a spectacular hike for Big Bend National Park visitors.  On one side, Mexico.  On the other, the United States.

The hike is rated moderate, because of steep climbs in the trail and steps along the way.  The distance is 1.7 miles roundtrip and is one of the "must do" experiences for hikers visiting the park.

This National Parks Service page talks about Santa Elena as a river trip.  Visit Big Bend has this about the Canyon, and their list of outfitters for river trips is here.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Approach to Guadalupe Mountains' Dog Canyon

There's a section of Guadalupe Mountains National Park that gets visited less often because, to get there you have to drive into New Mexico (just a little bit) and then head south again into Texas to approach the park from the north.  But this is the view you see as you get near the park..you're seeing the Lincoln National Forest.

Dog Canyon is one of our favorite sections of the park.  The campground is lovely and there's lots of space between the campsites.  The trails are even less traveled than the rest of the park.  Plenty of private wilderness for us visitors! 

Read more about it here!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Sunday Best with Hats

A photograph from the collection of Van Horn's Clark Hotel Museum, of Pink Blythe and friends! 

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Two Texas Mountain Road Rides Starting in Marathon!

This lovely little store carries simple cycling supplies, camping supplies, great snacks and food for your adventure! (photo by Marci Roberts)
The Gage Hotel in Marathon is the starting point for two cycling routes!
Bicyclists can start a couple of adventures from the lovely little town of Marathon, either a 10 mile, easy family-friendly route, or a two night adventure around the Texas Mountains.

Our Texas Mountain Trail heritage bike ride called, Ride to the Post, takes you on the route taken by the Comanche to their desert oasis and watering hole, now a county park.  You go near the site of a Buffalo Soldier encampment, by the formal Gage Gardens and Marathon's historic cemetery.  This is a relatively flat, easy, scenic 10 mile route.  That's 5 miles out, and 5 miles in.  Check it out!

The Texas Mountain Ride! route is longer, taking you to Alpine, Fort Davis and Marathon--a two night journey.  Day 1 is 54 miles to Fort Davis, via Alpine.  Day 2 allows plenty of time to explore Fort Davis and Marfa--just 21 miles.  Day 3 takes you back through Alpine to Marathon--57 miles. There are lots of beautiful sights along the way, and for lodging, consider staying at any of our Texas Mountain Trail cycle-friendly hotel properties! 


Friday, February 17, 2012

Mountain Biking in Big Bend Ranch State Park and the Chihuahuan Dester Dirt Fest!

If you're not in Big Bend Ranch State Park, or at Lajitas this weekend, you're missing some great mountain biking!  That's because the park, Lajitas Golf Resort, Big Bend National Park, Big Bend Trails Alliance, and Desert Sports are hosting three days of EPIC mountain biking opportunities...for riders of all skill levels....the Chihuahuan Desert Dirt Fest.


Today there's a kids ride of 7-10 miles, as well as rides of 15-20 miles, 20 and 30+ miles...something for everyone!

This has become an annual event, so stay tuned to the Desert Sports website or the Big Bend Ranch State Park website for information about future events!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Here's a place visitors don't see often enough, or take advantage of the opportunities there.  The Education Room at the Museum of the Big Bend in Alpine is decorated with kites because there's a kid's class taking place this spring for children K-4th grade on kites!  There are also adult classes offered by the Museum, too.  Want to know more?  Visit the Museum's website, here!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Dell City Ranching

Today we share the last of the series of photos taken near Dell City, sent to us by Texas Mountain Trail board member and editor of the Hudspeth County Herald and Dell Valley Review, Drew Stuart.  All of Drew's "cow works" photos were taken at the fall roundup/ branding/ etc. at the CL Ranch, just west of Dell City.

Thanks to Drew for a wonderful week of great photos from a great corner of the region, just west of Guadalupe Mountains National Park!

Monday, February 13, 2012

View from the TOP of Texas!


From the TOP OF TEXAS, the view from Guadalupe Peak (8,749 ft) in Guadalupe Mountains National Park, from our Texas Mountain Trail board member and editor of the Hudspeth County Herald and Dell Valley Review, Drew Stuart. The hike is 8.4 miles with an elevation of 3100 feet, and offers stunning views of the mountains and the desert land below.  Most people do it as a day hike (there are a few camping options near the summit) and it usually takes 6-8 hours round trip.  Take plenty of water...the park recommends 4 quarts per person.

Once you reach the summit, be sure to write your name in the journal at the obelisk!

Here's the GeoBetty page for the hike, complete with a map!  The park has a two page flyer about the hike...to view it, click here.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Guadalupe Mountains at Sunset from Salt Flat

Today, another lovely photo of the Guadalupe Mountains National Park at sunset from Salt Flat.  The salt in this area is a remnant of an ancient shallow lake, and was important to native peoples as a sacred element, and was used in the tanning of hides, as a condiment and as a preservative.  It was collected by the explorers and settlers in the area.

The National Park's website has a great page on the El Paso Salt War.  Highlights from that page:


"Mexicans and Mexican Americans from the El Paso Valley communities would make a 70 mile, two day journey from San Elizario to the salt beds. The salt would then be transported by mule drawn wagons south to Chihuahua and Sonora, where it was an important trade item. In addition to traditional uses, in Chihuahua the salt was used in the smelting of silver."

"Prior to 1848, the salt beds, under Spanish law, were common land not owned by any one individual. After 1848, under American law, these were unclaimed lands, available to anyone who filed there. The Mexicans, believing that everybody had the right to the salt, never thought to file claims to the salt beds in the name of any one individual or group."

"The El Paso Salt War began in the late 1860’s as a struggle between El Paso businessmen W.W. Mills, Albert J. Fountain, and Louis Cardis in an attempt to acquire title to the salt deposits near the base of the Guadalupe Mountains. Mexican Americans of the valley communities, who had for years collected salt there for free, were now faced with the threat of being charged salt collection fees."

"In September 1877, Howard started a riot when he arrested two San Elizario residents who attempted to go for salt. An angry mob captured and held Howard for three days at San Elizario. He finally gained his freedom by vowing to give up claim to the salt beds and leave the country. He retreated to Mesilla, New Mexico, but quickly returned to murder Cardis in an El Paso store. Angry Mexicans demanded Howard’s arrest. Howard was arraigned for Cardis’ murder and placed under bond to appear in court in March."    

For the rest of the story, click here!

Thanks again to Drew Stuart, Texas Mountain Trail board member and editor of the Hudspeth County Herald and Dell Valley Review.  We've enjoyed your photos all week!

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Shumard Peak

Thanks again to Drew Stuart for sharing this photo of Shumard Peak of Guadalupe Mountains National Park.  The peak is part of the Western Escarpment, which plays an important role in telling the story of the Permian period in North America.  According to the park's website, "these exposures present one of the finest cross sections in the world of the transition from shallow-water to deep-water deposits."  Geology fans, want to learn more?  Click here for the full story.  Thanks again to Drew, one of our dedicated Texas Mountain Trail board members and editor of the Hudspeth County Herald and Dell Valley Review for sharing this photos from around the Dell City area.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Fall Roundup by Dell City

Another in our series of images from Dell City from Drew Stuart, editor of the Hudspeth County Herald and Dell Valley Review, and Texas Mountain Trail board member.  Drew says, "the "cow works" photos were taken at the fall roundup/ branding/ etc. at the CL Ranch, just west of Dell City."  Thanks to Drew for sharing all these great images with the rest of us!

Thursday, February 09, 2012

View from Alamo Mountain

This "view from Alamo Mountain" was actually taken in New Mexico, but it captures Texas landscape - the Guadalupe Mountains and Guadalupe Mountain National Park.  This week we're featuring views from around Dell City, by our Texas Mountain Trail board member, Drew Stuart.  Drew is also the editor of the Hudspeth County Herald and Dell Valley Review.  Thanks, Drew, for sharing your corner of the region with the rest of us!

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Cornudas Mountains

A view of Cornudas Mountains, a cluster of volcanic formations northwest of Dell City, which straddle the state line, in Hudspeth County, Texas and Otero County, N.M.   This week we're featuring the photos of one of our Texas Mountain Trail board members, Drew Stuart, who is also the editor of the Hudspeth County Herald and Dell Valley Review.  Thanks, Drew!  Gorgeous view!

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Dell City Roundup

This week we're featuring photos from around Dell City, a corner of the region that is not often traveled by visitors, but should be.  The photos come to us from Drew Stuart, editor of the Hudspeth County Herald and Dell Valley Review, and one of our Texas Mountain Trail board members.  The "cow works" photos were taken at the fall roundup and branding at the CL Ranch, just west of Dell City.

Monday, February 06, 2012

The view from Fort Davis' Cemetery Road, by S. Billingsley.  We've been tremendously excited to share a wonderful collection of images of our region by S. all week long.  Our heartiest thanks to the photographer.  Catch more of his images at his facebook page, here.

Sunday, February 05, 2012

Storms bring GREEN!

The rain brings a carpet of green regrowth to Davis Mountains State Park.  Big, big, big Far West Texas thanks to S. Billingsley of Fort Davis for sharing his wonderful images of the region with our audience.  S. Billingsley, thank you so much!

Saturday, February 04, 2012

View on Pinto Canyon Road

Our friend, S. Billingsley shot this wonderful image from Pinto Canyon Road, FM2810, south of Marfa.  We've been happy to share his photographs of our region with all of you this week.  Sending our heartiest thanks to S.!

Friday, February 03, 2012

Fort Davis Drug Store by S. Billingsley

One of Fort Davis' favorite places is the Drug Store in the heart of downtown.  Here's it captured by our Facebook friend, S. Billingsley.  Looks inviting!

Our heartiest thanks to S. Billingsley for sharing his images of our region all week!  Love your work!

Thursday, February 02, 2012

View from Boy Scout Road by S. Billingsley

Another great image of the Davis Mountains by our friend, S. Billingsley.  This shows the view from Boy Scout road between Fort Davis and Balmorhea.  Lovely blue sky!

Want to see more great photos?  Check out his facebook page! 

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Mitre Peak under beautiful clouds

Another great image from our friend, S. Billingsley.  This one shows the road to Marfa, with Mitre Peak in the background!

Again, thanks to S. Billingsley for sharing his wonderful images of the Davis Mountains.  We'll be featuring them the rest of the week.  Connect with him on Facebook, here.