Written by Shirley T
Saturday, 23 January 2010 15:28
Castolon Historic District is the place to catch the glimpse of Big Bend's past. Located at the western side of Big Bend National Park, it is accessible either via Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive or Old Maverick Road. However, the Old Maverick Road is an unpaved road only recommended for high clearance vehicles.
What I recalled vividly when we arrived there, the weather was very hot. Guess it is the venue to experience the temperature of Chihuahuan desert albeit we were there on Thanksgiving weekend, almost in the winter. Despite hiding under the porch of the Visitor Center, how I wish I could have an ice-cream!
The building that houses the Visitor Center and La Harminio Company were constructed by U.S. Army at Castolon in 1919-1920, near the end of the Mexican Revolution. Enlisted as men's barrack, it formerly housed twenty cavalrymen and twenty infantrymen to promote camaraderie living under an open shelter. The Visitor Center is closed in summer but the store - La Harminio Co. which provides good range of supplies is open year round.
After the army left Castolon in 1921, Wayne Cartledge took over and relocated his La Harmonia Company store and trading post from the river floodplain where today is the location of Cottonwood campground. In 1925, he purchased the building from U.S. government, later extended the east wing to house store employees and today, it serves as Castolon Visitor Center. The La Harmonia Company was also involved in ranching and farming cotton. Despite it was regarded as not-so-prosperous endeavor, cotton farming proceeded in large scale and continued for two decades. In 1961, the National Park Service acquired the La Harmonia Company holdings and since then a concession operation has taken place at the store.
One of the oldest known adobe structures in Big Bend National Park - the Alvino House is located in this historic district. Adobe ruins are part of the sight. They were once homes for the many Mexican American and Anglo families that lived in the area. Take a stroll to experience the past and witness the vintage fuel pump, old machinery or equipment and a wood wagon exhibited on its ground.
"The real story of Castolon is the everyday lives of the people who lived, worked, and raised families there." ~ Big Bend NPS
The legacy lives on.
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