Monday, March 21, 2011


After sleeping in just a bit this morning (Those sunrise drives are starting to catch up with us.) we weren’t sure what we would do on yet another hot, dry and dusty day. We took one look outside at our RV Park and were inspired. We said each other, “Is this place a ghost town, or what?”

We ventured about 15 minutes east to explore Terlingua. This tiny town serves as a gateway to Big Bend National Park and is home to a small community of folks who appreciate its remoteness and rugged beauty. As if things down here aren’t hot enough, Terlingua is also home to Chili Appreciation Society International’s annual chili championship, which attracts some 10,000 “chiliheads” to town each November. And, one more thing. Terlingua’s historic “downtown” is now a ghost town.

On our way to Terlingua we made a quick stop at the Long Draw. This pizza place isn’t open in the middle of the day. We were here to pick up a geocache. There’s Paul making the find. Yep, it was under the flower pot.

As we approached the Terlingua's historic downtown we noticed a sign for this RV Park. By the looks of things, our guess is it’s been a long time since anybody parked at Jo Mama’s. But, we got a chuckle out of its name.

Terlingua’s heyday started with the discovery of cinnabar, the ore of mercury, around the dawn of the 20th century. By 1900, four quicksilver mining companies were operating in town and its population grew to 2,000. World War I brought increased demand for mercury, which was used to make explosives. The wartime boom was followed by a bust. The Chisos Mine struggled to make it through World War II. In 1946, the mine and the town were abandoned. For more than half a century, the remains of this mining town have crumbled.

This looks like a movie set, but it feels like a real-life ghost town. With no fences around, visitors are free to roam around the ruins. Signs are posted outside the structures that are private residences. The structure in the foreground was once the Perry School. The private residence behind it is known as The Mansion. That’s right, somebody lives there!

This ghost town has evolved into an eclectic community of characters who apparently don’t mind living in ruins. Many of the local residents are artists, and sculptures dot the landscape.

Yesteryear’s filling station is today’s picnic shelter.

Relics of Terlingua’s mining past can be seen all around town.

The old Terlingua church is one of the few structures around that is undergoing restoration.

The door was open. So, of course we went inside.

The church is still used for services...and yoga lessons.

Every ghost town has a cemetery. This is Terlingua’s.

The final resting place of the townspeople is as unique as the town. This still active cemetery is a powerful reminder that life, and the afterlife, can be rough and rugged in the Big Bend region.

The Starlight Theater is a Terlingua icon. This restaurant and bar features entertainment and dancing nightly.

The Leapin’ Lizard Gallery is one of a handful of businesses around town.

This pirate ship compound looks like a business, but it’s not. It’s the place one Terlingua resident calls home. You have to agree, that's one catchy name.

After rambling around these ruins, we were hungry! We stopped by the El Dorado Hotel and checked out the High Sierra Bar and Grill.

Inside we enjoyed friendly, laid back service and got a taste of Terlingua today. The burger and fries were delicious. And, one beer easily turned into two. That’s just the way it is here!

After all, when you’re hanging in a ghost town, what’s the hurry?


Merikay said...

Interesting. I wonder how much a property cost there?

Bet it's really hot in summer!

Sue and Doug said...

your RV park looks like a preverbial ghost town!..hey!!??..there is room for all the 'peeps' we will be right there!!

E Squared and Mui said...

What an interesting place to visit ... love the simplicity of the interior of the church, and those cemetery images are great.