Rio Grande Canyon, Quicksilver Mines Are Visited
By Herbert Beadle, Jr.
On August 6, 1938, 24 Scouts, Scouters, and a State Highway Patrolman left San Angelo to explore the Big Bend and the Chios Mountains. Eight days later they came home, a smile on each face, and each saying the tour was a success.
The group was headed by Mr. L. Malcolm R. Rogers, field executive, Mr. J. B. Carlisle, a State Highway Patrolman, and Mr. Frank Swift, as Scoutmaster. Mr. John Scott Trotter was the bus driver and Stanly Wallace as cook
The group left San Angelo the morning of the 6th of August and arrived at Fort Stockton that evening for a short swim at the Fort Stockton pool. After the meal Mr. Arch Williams told us some of his experiences in the Big Bend.
Mr. Williams lived in the Big Bend region for about 40 years. He knows the country like a book and can recall several experiences with various character of that country. He related to us about the "treaty making bandit," Hernandez. Hernandez would attach a wagon train and when the trail would form a "stockade circle" he would raise a flag of truce and enter the trail to make a treaty. The treaty would be made and everyone would get fairly well drunk. The next day the wagon train would start off in a straight line "and along "un come old Hernandez and 'barbecue' every last one of o' them folks," as Mr. Williams would say.
After a pleasant evening with Mr. Williams, we went to bed with a blanket of stars as our cover.
The next day we were guided through he remains of the Old Fort Stockton by Mr. Williams. The only building that was still stands is the old guard house. Mr. Williams told us the way that the building was put together. The stones were held together by a system of mortise and tenon. The stones were put together so well that no living person could slide a rock form its place.
After saying good-bye to Mr. Williams and Fort Stockton we went to Balmorhea for a swim in the wonderful pool there. We then had dinner and headed for Ft. Davis.
We ran into rain just outside Ft. Davis and when we attempted to visit the old ruins of Ft. Davis it hailed very hard. Because of the slick roads to the McDonald Observatory we abandoned the idea of going there until the next day. We waited in a highway department warehouse for the rain and hail to stop.
After the storm was over we went to Alpiine to spend the night. We went to see a little Chihuahua dog that stayed in the girls' dormitory at Sul Ross College. It was cute and so were the other sights in the dorm. Fay Robinson was the owner so if you want a good excuse to go inside the girls' dorm just ask for Fay's little dog.
After leaving the little dog we visited the Sul Ross Museum. We were shown the various specimens by Mr. Smith and Mr. Kelly. After a pleasant stay at the museum we made camp at Kokonut Lodge.
At the lodge the people that managed it had a small Scotty dog. Due to the fact that he was a royal clansman, like Mr. Rogers, his name was McTavish. He would sleep with us, eat with us (don't get me wrong, we didn't eat dog food), and chum with us. He helped make the stay at Alpine must more enjoyable. The Scouts on the tour will always remember McTavish.
Well, on with our story.
After spending the night at Alpine, we headed back to visit Ft. Davis. We unloaded at Ft. Davis because with a heavy load we couldn't climb the trail to the observatory. We then started the long grind up to the summit of Mt. Locke where the observatory is situated.
When we arrived at the McDonald Observatory we were greeted by Mr. Arch Garner. We were guided to the temporary telescope where we were introduced to Dr. C. T. Elvey. Dr. Elvey showed us the sun projecting the sun through the telescope on to a screen. he told us about the earth's rotation, about the sun and explained why sun spots are formed. He then answered any and all the questions that we asked him. he then took us inside the first floor of the observatory. All the inside is made of special steel and the ceiling is constructed of sound-obsorbing material. After explaining the highlights of the construction he showed us the clock. After all of us set our watches he told us that the clock lost 1-100 of a second a day. We were very "upset."
After saying goodbye to our friends we descended from Mr. Locke and started to visit the runs of old Fort Davis but it rained again and so we abandoned the idea of visiting the fort.
We replaced and returned to Alpine and "McTavish." We then spent the night and the next day we headed for the Big bend and the Chisos Mountains.
We went via Marathon through the Santiago Mountains to the Chisos Mountains. We arrived in Green Gulch late that afternoon to establish the base camp. After eating supper we were told precautions to take as to health and safety while in camp.
The next day we hiked to Mr. Emery and supposedly to Boot Springs. We followed the trail to a fork. One fork was to Boot Springs and the other ws to "we didn't know where." We came to an old settler's cabin known as smugglers cabin. We knew that we were on the wrong trail so some of us split up. Three of the boys, Joe Stool, Bert White and Joe Hardgrave conquested Mt. Emery. The rest turned back and came to what we called the "bath tub." It was a serious of small crevices in solid rock and these crevices are about right for a bath tub. The three boys that climbed Mr. Emery returned about dark while the others returned somewhat earlier in the evening.
The third day of our trip we spent in exploring around camp. Some of us climbed Casa Grande, a peak close to camp, while others of us went to the Window.
The Window is a place where two mountains come together at their foot. If one looks between the two he will see a beautiful view of Old Mexico. Here, too, is where one can find the pink rattlesnake. Due to the fact that the mountain ledges are of a pinkish hue the snake had to match his habitat.
After climbing, exploring, and seeing the pink rattlesnakes we returned to camp in time for supper and then to bed.
The fourth day in camp we took a trip to Santa Helena CAnyon, Castalon, and Terlingua. We arrived at the canyon about eleven thirty and climbed a short distance into the canyon. We waded in the Rio Grande and had a black-mud fight. It was plenty of fun and when the cook said "soup's on" we were really ready for it.
After dinner we went to Castalon. Castalon consists of a store and about three houses. However small the town was, the hospitality of the people of Castalon was as large as the town was small. We will always remember the courtesies shown us by everyone we met.
When we left Castalon we journeyed to Terlingua, the town of quicksilver. There vast deposits of cinnabar can be found. Due to this fact Terlingua is a mining town.
After visiting Terlingua we returned to camp, ate supper and went to bed.
The next day we were free to explore anywhere we wished and that was the day that Scouting and signaling saved a lot of time and effort. Four boys including myself decided to climb Mt. Emery. We ascended all right until we came to a rock wall about forty feet from the top. The other three could make it but I could not because I am a very poor climber. They got to the top and then yelled back to me that they couldn't get down and for me to go to camp. It was about an hour and a half before sundown so I really ran. And I admit, I was plenty scared so I made it just before sundown. We sent out one rescue party and about ten minutes we heard then yell. We thought that they meant either help or that they shot something so we sent out a second rescue party to rescue the first rescue party. We then decided that before they left that we would use a serious of dots and dashes to tell whether they had found the first party or not. about five times the flashlight said no luck but finally they said they found the first party. Finally we all got back to camp and we were sure glad to hit the hay that night.
The next day we were all sore from our climb but nevertheless we sent to Boquillos and Hot Springs.
Boquillos is a typical Mexican town with adobe brick all whitewashed and the picturesque peon resting in the cool shade. Due to the fact that ice has to be hauled such a distance soda pop costs 10 cents or two for 15. But we were plenty thirsty and a nickel didn't matter much.
After we stayed in Boquillos for a short time we went to Hot Springs. it is just about on the Rio Grande and about 15 miles from Boquillos. The mineral water there is very healthful and is well worth drinking. We at dinner at Hot Springs and then hunted for specimens of flag-stone. We all found enough to satisfy our need.
After Hot springs we went to the place where scientists had some dinosaur bones. We then returned to camp, ate a hearty meal and went to bed.
The next day we broke camp, said good-bye to the Chisos and the Big Bend and headed for home, the place that is always the best camping grounds.
This story was taken from the West Texas Scouting News, Vol. 2 No. 8