Big Bend: A Homesteader’s Story (Second edition)
To the wild and fabulous country where the Rio Grande makes its big bend, J. O. Langford came in 1909 with his wife and daughter in search of health and a home. High on a bluff overlooking the spot where Tornillo Creek pours its waters into the turbulent Rio Grande, the Langfords built their home, a rude structure of adobe blocks in a land reputed to be inhabited only by bandits and rattlesnakes.
Big Bend is the story of the Langfords' life in the rugged and spectacularly beautiful country which they came to call their own. Langford's account is told with the help of Fred Gipson, author of Old Yeller and Hound Dog Man.
Big Bend Country: Land of the Unexpected
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.
Naturalist's Big Bend: An Introduction to the Trees and Shrubs, Wildflowers, Cacti, Mammals, Birds, Reptiles and Amphibians, Fish, and Insects
In southwest Texas where the Rio Grande arcs southward into Mexico lies Big Bend National Park, 708,221 acres of river floodplain, desert, grasslands, and majestic mountains, a richly varied environment that exist more or less as it did before man’s arival. The wealth of the Big Bend is in its dramatic landscape, which provides natural habitats ranging form desert to alpine, and its consequently impressive variety of flora and fauna.
Lizards on the Mantel, Burros at the Door: A Big Bend Memoir.
A woman who went West with her husband in the 1840s must have expected hardships and privation, but during the 1940s, when Etta Koch stopped off in Big Bend with her young family and a 23-foot travel trailer in tow, she anticipated no more than a civilized camping trip between her old home in Ohio and a new one in Arizona. It was only when she found herself moving into an old rock house without plumbing or electricity in the new Big Bend National Park that Etta realized, "From the sheltered life of a city girl of moderate circumstances, I too would have to face the reality of frontier living."
In this book based on her journals and letters, Etta Koch and her daughter June Cooper Price chronicle their family's first years (1944-1946) in the Big Bend. Etta describes how her photographer husband Peter Koch became captivated by the region as a place for natural history filmmaking-and how she and their three young daughters slowly adapted to a pioneer lifestyle during his months' long absences on the photo-lecture circuit. In vivid, often humorous anecdotes, she describes making the rock house into a home, getting to know the Park Service personnel and other neighbors, coping with the local wildlife, and, most of all, learning to love the rugged landscape and the hardy individuals who call it home.
Chronicles of the Big Bend: A Photographic Memoir of Life on the Border.
As a young teamster on a pack-mule train, Wilfred Dudley Smithers saw the Rio Grande's Big Bend for the first time in 1916, and it captured his imagination forever. For decades thereafter he returned to Texas' last great frontier—the great bend of the Rio Grande on the Texas-Mexico border—chronicling the region and its people in words and photographs.
After half a century of photography, Smithers' superlative collection of nine thousand images ended up at the University of Texas at Austin, and in 1976 more than one hundred of these were reproduced in Chronicles of the Big Bend, a critically acclaimed work that until now has long been out of print.
The years that Smithers chronicled in the Big Bend were sometimes violent ones. Pancho Villa and Chico Cano were among the many "bandits" playing hide-and-seek with the U.S. Cavalry—events Smithers recorded. He was also an eyewitness to liquor-running and smuggling during Prohibition. His principal subjects, however, were the people of the Big Bend: local ranchers, Mexican American and American families, miners, Texas Rangers, and others living simple lives in this harsh and beautiful land.
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
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.
Wings over the Mexican Border: Pioneer Military Aviation in the Big Bend
Against a backdrop of revolution, border banditry, freewheeling aerial dramatics, and World War II comes this compelling look at the rise of U.S. combat aviation at an unlikely proving ground—a remote airfield in the rugged reaches of the southwestern Texas borderlands. Here, at Elmo Johnson's Big Bend ranch, hundreds of young Army Air Corps pilots demonstrated the U.S. military's reconnaissance and emergency response capabilities and, in so doing, dramatized the changing role of the airplane as an instrument of war and peace.
A Most Singular Country: A History of Occupation in the Big Bend
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.