Monday, January 7, 2013

Terlingua Ghost Town

I don't really know how to explain Terlingua. Oh, the basic history is simple enough. Cinnabar was discovered in the area and a mine established in the 1880s. There was a boom, and the population grew to about 2000 citizens. Activity over the years decreased, and the area basically became a ghost town.

But something happened a few decades ago, and Terlingua has enjoyed a revival of sorts. I don't know where it all started, or how. For me, my first awareness of the community came about with the release of Viva Terlingua! in 1973, an album by Jerry Jeff Walker that was recorded in Luckenbach and, to my knowledge, did not even mention Terlingua. But the title was enough to put Terlingua on my map, at least for me.

Actually, an event in 1967 really started generating some attention for Terlingua, the first annual Chili Cookoff sponsored by the International Chili Society (ICS). Among the 3 judges of that first cookoff in Terlingua was Hallie Stillwell, a well-known and beloved personality in the Big Bend region. Terlingua continues to host chili contests each fall, drawing as many as 10,000 folks to this remote corner of Texas.

Today, Terlingua and the surrounding area is a rambling state-of-mind sort of place. The area attracts free spirits, many of them refugees from the 1960s and 1970s. They dislike conforming, and they enjoy the freedom the area offers. You can dress like you want and live like you want, and no one really cares.

If you come to Terlingua, expect the unexpected. This ain't your Elm Street, USA, type of community. People live in structures you would never find elsewhere, and you'll find yourself eating in a hole-in-the-wall you would never enter where you live, and you'll consider it fine dining.

Here are a few photos we took while in the area of Terlingua Ghost Town.

I guess you'd call this Downtown Terlingua. It is home of the Starlight Dinner Theater (right). Far Flung Adventures once was located next door; it is now a tourist shop offering anything for sell related to the Big Bend. Far Flung has moved down the road a piece. This is in the old mining district. People like to sit on the veranda, drink beer, and stare at the tourists.

These are old miners' huts. Many have been "upgraded" and are being lived in. Others have not been upgraded at all. I've personally known someone who lived in one of these with no electricity and no running water. You have to love the lifestyle to live here.

Terlingua Farmers' Market, held every Saturday from October through March. On this particular day, there wasn't much going on. It was cold and the Saturday between Christmas and New Years. A community garden is located right behind where I was standing to snap this photo.
Terlingua Cemetery. Graves date back to the mining boom, but also include many from recent years.
Abandoned miners' huts, with the Perry Mansion in center. Mr. Perry owned/managed the mine.

Graves in the cemetery














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