A Ranger Laments

A line of hills and a mountain are highlighted red and pink by the setting sun.

NPS/Ernesto Santos


Oren P. Senter was transferred to Big Bend from Hot Springs National Park in July of 1944 to serve as the first Park Ranger for the newly established park. At the time the park boasted a total staff of five, and Senter was quite literally the "Lone Ranger." Park Superintendent Ross Maxwell reported that Senter would devote his patrols to "becoming acquainted with the local ranchmen who were still living in the park, meeting local representatives of federal and state agencies, local civic clubs and other citizens." This poem by Senter vividly depicts his frustrations with the challenges this place had to offer.



By Park Ranger Oren P. Senter

'Twas once that I was happy,
My life was filled with cheer,
I never had seen Texas,
'Till the Park Service brought me here.

I've heard songs of her beauty,
Pretty girls and big strong men,
Rolling plains and majestic mountains,
Just heaven—from end to end.

The one thing that is certain,
Of this there is no denying,
The guy that started that noise,
Did a hell of a lot of lying.

Deep in the heart of Texas,
There is sand in all we eat,
The girls are all bowlegged,
The boys all have flat feet.

That's why they have to send me here,
To sit in sad dejection,
Out of this lonely desert,
For this park's protection.

No longer are we religious,
We drink, we fight, we curse,
No worry about going to Hell,
It can't be any worse.

Down here the sun is hotter,
Down here the rain is wetter,
They think it's the best state,
But there are forty-seven better.

Still there is no one to blame but me,
The Park Service never forgot it,
I asked for foreign duty, and
Believe me, By God, I Got it.

Last updated: April 7, 2021

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PO Box 129
Big Bend National Park , TX 79834-0129



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