Saturday, December 29, 2012

Dugout Wells

About 6 miles southeast of Panther Junction (headquarters for Big Bend National Park), just north of the main east/west park road, lies Dugout Wells. This oasis is visible for several miles as several tall cottonwoods and a single windmill stick out on the horizon like a city skyline on a treeless plain.

Aside from the markers present at Dugout Wells, I can find limited information about this little oasis. At one time, it was considered a cultural center of this vast region. Travelers would stop here for water, catching up on both local and other news as they did so. There were a few houses here at one time, and even a little school.

The seep at Dugout Wells where live-giving water merges from the desert floor

Today, not much remains of that little community. A well-maintained dirt road of about half a mile brings visitors from the main road. The road then loops the growth of trees. There is a primitive toilet, two picnic tables, a windmill, and a half-mile nature trail.

Donna and I walked the nature trail. It is well-maintained and easy to follow. Markers are spaced along the trail, and provide a glimpse of life in the desert. One marker indicates where a dugout was once located, while others provide information about plants and animals.

View of Dugout Wells from the nature trail. The Sierra del Carmen mountains of Mexico are in the right background.

From what little I have been able to dig up, it seems that William Green bought the land around what is known today as Dugout Wells in 1915. A school was already established in the area, and had been since at least 1911. In fact, during the mid-1920s, there was a sufficient number of pupils to allow for 2 full-time teachers. The school eventually closed in 1933, and the land was eventually sold to the park service.

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