History & Culture

rock houses at Mariscal
Windows to the Past
 

"Histories never conclude; they just pause their prose. Their stories are, if they are truthful, untidy affairs, resistant to windings-up and sortings-out. They beat raggedly on into the future..." Simon Schama

 

Big Bend is a gift from those who came before us. Often referred to as Texas' Gift to the Nation, Big Bend is famous for its natural resources and recreational opportunities, the park is also rich in cultural history. Native peoples lived in and/or passed through this area for thousands of years. Their presence is evidenced by pictographs and archeological sites. In more recent history (the last 500 years) Texas has been claimed by six different nations!

The Big Bend has been a home to people for many centuries, but knowledge of the Rio Grande among non-Indians dates back less than 150 years. Spanish people crossed the Rio Grande in the 16th and 17th centuries searching for gold, silver, and fertile land. Comanche Indians crossed the river in the 19th century, traveling to and from Mexico with their raiding parties. Mexican settlers began farming on both banks of the river’s floodplain around 1900. Anglo-Americans joined in the farming after 1920, when boundary unrest ended. Cotton and food crops were grown around Castolon and what is now Rio Grande Village, even after the park was established.

Today, you can drive along portions of the Comanche Trail, the same route Comanche warriors once traveled on raids into Mexico, or you can visit the site of La Harmonia Store at Castolon where locals (and visitors) have shopped for eighty years.

From archeological sites dating back nearly 10,000 years, to ranches, wax camps, military outposts, and mining operations from the Twentieth Century, Big Bend can be a great place to "discover" history.

 
Discover the rich history of the Big Bend region.

Human History

From prehistoric Indians to ranchers, miners to park visitors.

Big Bend has been a home for over 8,000 years.

Big Bend's Original Inhabitants

Discover the earliest groups that lived in Big Bend.

our cultural heritage is valuable, irreplaceable, and worthy of protection and preservation.

Big Bend Archaeology

There still is much to learn about the prehistory of Big Bend National Park

Big Bend if full of numerous characters and individuals who lived, struggled, and thrived in the uni

People

Discover some of Big Bend's best characters: ranchers, residents, organizations, advocates, and park rangers.

 Where History Was Made

Places

Ranches, villages, trading posts, mines, and cavalry camps.

Personal adventures from the Big Bend Country

Stories

Big Bend, with its long and rich cultural history, is home to many stories, tales and legends.

The Establishment of Big Bend National Park

Texas' Gift to the Nation

Big Bend is a gift from those who came before us, who worked hard to promote and protect the area as a national park.

Selected documents from earlier times.

Historic Documents

From Big Bend's past, these documents provide a glimpse into the by-gone days of this remote park.

History Publications

Early Park History Books

Nostalgic reports on Big Bend's variety of cultural resources during the early days of the park.

Last updated: April 17, 2020

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

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

Phone:

432-477-2251

Contact Us