About This Lesson
This lesson about frontier life in Texas is based on the National Register of Historic Places registration file, "Castolon Historic District" (with photographs), and other source materials about Castolon and ranching in the Big Bend region. It was written by Carol E. Sperling, former Supervisory Park Ranger at Big Bend National Park. TwHP is sponsored, in part, by the Cultural Resources Training Initiative and Parks as Classrooms programs of the National Park Service. This lesson is one in a series that brings the important stories of historic places into the classrooms across the country.
Where it fits into the curriculum
Topics: The lesson could be used in teaching units on westward expansion or United States geography. Students will practice skills of map reading, and analysis of photographs and primary documents.
Time period: Late 19th century to early 20th century
Relevant United States History Standards for Grades 5-12
Relevant Curriculum Standards for Social Studies
Find your state's social studies and history standards for grades Pre-K-12
Objectives for students
1) To understand living conditions for settlers around Castolon at the turn of the 20th century, including how they supported themselves.
2) To explain why early settlers in the area of the Rio Grande felt free to cross the international boundary frequently.
3) To list, in English and Spanish, 10 commodities local ranch families could have obtained at the Castolon trading post.
4) To compare the early history of Castolon to that of their own communities in the early-to-mid 1900s.
Materials for students
The materials listed below either can be used directly on the computer or can be printed out, photocopied, and distributed to students. The maps and images appear twice: in a low-resolution version with associated questions and alone in a larger, high-quality version.
1) two maps showing Texas and the southern part of Big Bend;
2) four readings describing the settlement of Big Bend, army life on the frontier, and Castolon's role as a trading post;
3) six photographs of Castolon and the surrounding area.
Visiting the site
Castolon Historic District is located in the southwest corner of Big Bend National Park, in West Texas. Park headquarters are 100 miles southeast of Alpine, Texas, off State Highway 118, and Castolon is 38 miles southwest of headquarters. For information, contact the Superintendent, Big Bend National Park, Big Bend National Park, TX 79834 or visit the park's Web page.