Sunday, April 17, 2022

Visiting the Terlingua Ghost Town and Roadside Attractions

Old Car by the Jail
Old Car Near Terlingua Jail

Trading PostThe place to start this self-guided tour is the Trading Post.  In addition to snacks, drinks, and souvenirs, they offer a simple map and ask for a $1 donation.  The map describes the buildings immediately surrounding the store, and (if memory serves) the donation is to support the local church.

Jail OutsideTerlingua was built around mining of a mineral called Cinnabar, which was refined into liquid mercury.  Prior to the turn of the century in 1900, 76,000 pounds of refined mercury had been recovered, and in 1903 the Chisos Mining Company had been established.  The heyday for this town was during World War I when mercury was in high demand to be used for making explosives.

Old Gas StationThe mine remained profitable, and the town did well, up until the stock market crash of 1929 and the great depression.  The mine continued to operate after that, though at a loss until it went bankrupt in 1949, when it was purchased by The Texas Railway Equipment Company.  The mine remained open throughout World War II, however it was closed in 1946 due to flooding inside the mine and a depressed post-war market for mercury.

SchoolThis was a tough town to live in – the work was hard and dangerous.  Still, it was a thriving community with a diverse population for many years.

ChurchThroughout the time that the mine was open, the trading post was one business that remained profitable, and it is still operating today.  The church behind the store is still used by the local community.

Starlight TheaterThe Starlight Theater is a restaurant/saloon is rated pretty highly online, but I already had lunch before I stopped here, so I didn’t stop for a meal.

Adobe House-6Just south of “the city proper”, there are several old adobe and stone buildings that look like they were houses back in the day.  A little further down the road is the Terlingua Cemetery which is still used today, however most of the graves appear to go back to the earliest days of this community.

Mosquito SculptureAfter walking through the cemetery and getting a few photos, I wanted to see some of the roadside art around the area.  Starting right across the street from the old houses and cemetery, there is a giant mosquito made up of scrap metal as well as a sculpture of a motorcycle thingy.

Farm EquipmentOne of the must see pieces though is called “Passing Wind”.  This is the only desert-based submarine; next to that is a homemade pirate ship.  Both of these are on land that is for sale; from what I’ve read, it has been for sale for a long time, so the owner is clearly not in a rush.

Overall, this is a great spot to spend the afternoon.  There are a couple of other restaurants in the immediate area that I saw, so it would have been a good place to have lunch or dinner.  If I had been here during the November, I would have had to buy tickets to the annual International Chili Championship.  It would be interesting to try different chili dishes from around the world.

Motorcycle Sculpture USS Passing Wind Pirate Ship in the Desert
Terlingua Cemetery Sign Terlingua Gravesite-1 Terlingua Cemetery Marker
Terlingua Cemetery-1 Terlingua Gravesite-2 Terlingua Cemetery-2
History of Chisos Mine and Terlingua-1 History of Chisos Mine and Terlingua-2 Adobe House-4
Adobe House-3 Adobe House-5 Adobe House-2
Photo-1 Jail Inside Altar In Church

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