Brewster County Travel & Relocation Guide 2023 2023 - Page 23

TERLINGUA ~ STUDY Butte ~ Lajitas
23

T����n�ua ~ S�ud� B��� ~

La�ita� is debate over the meaning of the name

T��r� Terlingua . Some insist it ’ s a permutation of tres linguas , meaning three languages , perhaps in reference to English , Spanish and Native languages spoken in the area .

Terlingua fi rst referred to a small Mexican village on Terlingua Creek , three miles north of where it meets the Rio Grande . When quicksilver was discovered in the area in the 1880s , the Marfa and Mariposa Mining Company was quickly established and the name applied to its mining camps . By 1902 there were around 300 laborers living in the camps , mostly Mexican men . Over the next few years , the population swelled to 1,000 as miners brought their families and replaced their tents with stone houses . When the Marfa and Mariposa mine closed in 1910 and the Chisos Mining Company rose to prominence , the post offi ce was moved 10 miles to the east , keeping the name Terlingua .
The fi rst school in Terlingua was opened by Brewster County in 1907 , replaced in 1930 by the Perry School . Mine owner Howard Perry built his mansion on the west side of the town , where the Anglo population lived . Hispanic laborers lived on the east side of the company store . Unlike most West Texas cemeteries , the Terlingua cemetery is not segregated .
By the 1920s , 40 percent of the mercury produced in the United States came from Terlingua . Production peaked during World War I but began to decline steadily throughout the 1930s . The Chisos Mining Company declared bankruptcy in 1942 , and by the end of World War II the mining settlement had become a ghost town .
After the establishment of Big Bend National Park , visitors from
Terlingua
all over the nation began trickling into the remote , rugged region of the Trans-Pecos . In the early 1960s those seeking the harsh , quiet life of the desert began moving to the ghost town , rebuilding the native stone cottages left behind by the vanished miners . The trickle of tourists provided enough livelihood to support a small community on the edge of nowhere , and the hardy new locals livened up the desert with chili cookoffs , chihuahua races and a mandatory live-and-let-live attitude .
Off-the-grid building with solar power and rain catchment is the norm in the area . Terlingua has become a center for the adventure industry , with outfi tters offering river trips , mountain biking and