Brewster County Travel & Relocation Guide 2021-22 | Page 20

TERLINGUA ~ STUDY Butte ~ Lajitas

Terlingua ~

Study Butte ~ Lajitas

The stars are very bright in the Big Bend . Learn more at darksky . org . is debate over the meaning of the name

There 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 first 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 office was moved 10 miles to the east , keeping the name Terlingua .
The first 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
Terlingua had become a ghost town .
After the establishment of Big Bend National Park , visitors from 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-letlive attitude .