Suggested Reading List
A Most Singular Country: A History of Occupation in the Big Bend
Author: Arthur R. Gomez
Description: A Most Singular Country describes the unique geological compositions, seemingly endless desert, intermittent free-flowing springs, and surrounding flora and fauna found in Big Bend National Park. Also relevant is the story of the human inhabitants, beginning with aboriginal tribes wandering through the area and eventually Indians, Spaniards, Mexicans, and later Americans. Arthur R. Gomez is a National Park Service historian. He is also the author of Documentary Evidence for the Spanish Missions of Texas. He lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
Big Bend Country: Land of the Unexpected
Author: Kenneth Baxter Ragsdale
Description: Having first visited the Big Bend in 1928, Kenneth B. Ragsdale has been digging around in and writing about the region for the last forty years. In Big Bend Country: Land of the Unexpected, he takes a nostalgic retrospective journey through the times and places of this increasingly popular corner of West Texas to say goodbye to those who made the history, created the myths, and lived the legends. Building his stories around themes of compassion, conflict, and compromise, he profiles both famous and relatively unknown figures. He tells stories of curanderas (healers), charity workers, a woman who practiced medicine without a license, and another who started a private lending library in her store to encourage rural, poor children to read. In contrast to these stories, he chronicles blood feuds, shootouts, and the violence bred in wild, relatively lawless spaces. In a fascinating play on levels of meaning, Ragsdale traces the legacy of J. Frank Dobie and his stories of buried treasure—treasure that turned out to be that of the imagination if not of gold. Finally, he turns his attention to the cinematic portrayal of life in the Big Bend. He looks at the filming of Giant both as a subtext of its own--how the coming of celebrity and celebrities affected local lifestyles and self-perceptions--and as a cultural commentary on the popular perception of the West. Ragsdale's stories cover a half-century, roughly 1900 to 1955, from wagon trains to the filming of an epic movie, a time in which the face of the Big Bend changed: the quicksilver mines closed, a national park was established, isolation and cattle gave way to vacation ranchettes and tourists. Big Bend enthusiasts will want to join the author in his farewell tribute as he recaptures the spirit of the times through the eyes and words of the people who made the region the folklore attraction it is.
The Big Bend Of The Rio Grande: A Guide to the Rocks, Landscape, Geologic History and Settlers of the Area of the Big Bend National Park
Author: Ross A. Maxwell
Description: For years, the definitive guide to the Big Bend, by Ross A. Maxwell, geologist and first superintendent of Big Bend National Park. Geology, history, a guide to rocks, landscape, and settlers of the area of Big Bend National Park. Extremely useful for the scope of its coverage, and the magnificent fold-out geologic map of the area in the back sleeve is worth the price of the book by itself. A classic of the Big Bend.