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Title: Lost Mine Trail - Big Bend National Park, Texas
Author: Anonymous
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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    [Illustration: (_The cover photograph of this booklet is furnished
    through the courtesy of Peter Koch._)]

                            LOST MINE TRAIL

                         BIG BEND NATIONAL PARK


                        LEGEND OF THE LOST MINE

_Of the many romantic legends which abound throughout the West, few
match the Lost Mine story from which the peak takes its name. Is it
true? Did the mine exist? Or was it a campfire fabrication handed down
from generation to generation?_

Early Spanish explorers of the Southwest, in their fervent search for
gold and other riches, discovered and developed many mines, some
yielding silver and gold. According to legend, a rich ore body was
discovered on the highest point of Lost Mine Peak. Life-term prisoners
were forced to work the mine. These men were blindfolded on several
occasions in their march from the Presidio in San Vicente, Mexico, to
prevent them from learning its location. The ruins of this presidio may
still be observed some 20 miles southwest of this peak across the Rio
Grande in Mexico.

A story relates how the fierce Comanche Indians, who resented the
Spaniards’ invasion of their homeland and hunting grounds, attacked and
killed them to the last man. The last act, so goes the story, was to
seal the mine entrance to prevent further exploitation.

Legend states that if a person stands in the chapel door of San
Vicente’s Mission on Easter morn, he can watch the sun’s first rays
strike Lost Mine Peak at the exact mine entrance.

    [Illustration: _Lost Mine Peak in the Chisos Mountains_
    (Photo by 111th Photo Sec., Texas Nat’l Guard)]

                            LOST MINE TRAIL

This is your guidebook for using the trail which starts at this
registration desk. For about one mile of this walk the interesting
plants, unusual geological features and other things of interest are
explained. _Each object of special interest is marked by a numbered
stake._ Refer to the corresponding number in this booklet, and you will
find the name of the plant or feature and a description. The information
recorded here is necessarily brief, but the rangers will be glad to
answer your questions and give additional information.

1. Evergreen Sumac (_Rhus virens_). This sumac is commonly found in
Green Gulch and through the Chisos Mountains. It bears attractive
clusters of small white flowers followed by red berries which are seen
in the late autumn and winter.

2. Alligator Juniper (_Juniperus deppeana_). Observe alligator skin-like
bark of the tree which easily identifies this evergreen and gives it its
name. Under favorable conditions the species attains an age in excess of
500 years.

3. Mexican Pinyon (_Pinus cembroides_), is the only species of pine
found along this trail. Pinyon is the name given by the early Spanish
explorers and was described by Cabeza de Vaca in 1536. The seeds are
used by Indians for food and in recent years the nuts of a close
relative, _Pinus edulis_, have become an article of commerce.

4. Gray Oak (_Quercus grisea_). There are several species of oak on this
trail, but this particular one is easily recognized by the blue-gray
color of its leaves.

5. Emory Oak (_Quercus emoryi_). Of the several oaks in the park, this
represents one of the larger evergreen groups. The acorns are edible,
sweet, and are important as food for birds and small mammals. Notice the
glossy hollylike leaves.

6. Graves Oak (_Quercus gravesi_). Here is another of the oaks with
typical notched or toothed leaf margins. The lovely fall colors of the
Chisos Mountains (pronounced CHEE-sose) are principally due to the
abundance of these trees whose leaves takes on the rusts and reds of

7. Picture! From this point on the trail there is an excellent view of
Green Gulch. The high point on the left (north) of the gulch is Pulliam
Peak, 6,921 feet high. The faraway hills are the Rosillos Mountains, so
named because of their roan coloring.

    [Illustration: _Agave_]

8. Agave (_Agave scabra_). There are many different species of agaves
(often called century plants) in the Southwest, several occurring in Big
Bend. Plants of this group furnish many important products in Mexico,
and were utilized by Indians in various ways. Among the products are
fiber, food, drink (mescal), soap and medicine. Agaves are grown
commercially in more than 40 countries. These plants store up food in
the root and leaf systems for many years, finally send up one
fast-growing flower stalk, mature their seeds, and then die. The bloom
stalk grows almost 10 inches a day and represents the largest bloom of
any North American plant.

9. Texas Madrone (_Arbutus texana_). This beautiful tree has thin,
peeling bark. Its red berries, which mature in November, are highly
favored by deer which often rise up on their hind legs to reach them.
The name “Naked Indian” is sometimes applied because the twigs and
branches are the copper color of the Indian torso. A close relative of
this madrone is found along the west coast. Most of the madrones along
this trail were killed by drouth. This one is sprouting from the old
base. There are a number of fine living madrones along the road in upper
Green Gulch.

A fine angle view of Casa Grande is obtainable here. This large single
mass of volcanic rock (rhyolite) is 7,300 feet high.

10. Skunkbush Sumac, or Squawbush (_Rhus trilobata_). Although this
sumac belongs to the same family as the obnoxious poison ivy, it has
none of the latter’s irritating qualities. Leaves turn brilliant shades
of red and orange in the autumn.

11. Basketgrass (_Nolina erumpens_). Although referred to as a grass,
this plant belong to the lily family. The narrow, fibrous grasslike
leaves often attain a length of 5 feet, making them excellent material
for native basketry. The compact clusters of small pinkish-white flowers
rarely rise above the rank mass of foliage.

12. Geological Explanation. This rock is called conglomerate, because it
is formed from many kinds of rocks from many places. Note the rounded
shapes of the individual stones, caused by wearing away of the sharp
corners and edges when they were being transported by streams millions
of years ago. Later these materials were deposited in beds and under the
terrific pressure of overlying masses of sediments were compacted with
mineral cementing materials to form the solid mass which you see here.

13. Drooping Juniper (_Juniperus flaccida_). Appearing to be slightly
wilted, the drooping aspects of this graceful evergreen suggests grief.
Botanists claim that Big Bend National Park is the only area in the
United States in which it is found.

    [Illustration: _Drooping Juniper_]

                             CACTUS GARDEN

14. Lechuguilla (_Agave lechuguilla_) (pronounced lay-choo-GHEE-yuh) is
a small species of agave whose leaf crown somewhat resembles a bunch of
green bananas, and does not belong to the cactus family. The plant is so
well protected by its spine-tipped leaves that even hungry goats refrain
from eating it. The fibers within the fleshy leaves are used extensively
in northern Mexico for making brushes, matting, coarse twine and rope.
The short stem is used as a substitute for soap.

15. Claretcup Echinocereus (_Echinocereus triglochidiatus_). This is one
of the commonest and most spectacular of our hedgehog cactuses.
Occasionally, plants will have as many as 50 salmon-colored blossoms
open at the same time.

    [Illustration: _Desert vegetation and Chisos Mountains as seen from
    the east._]

16. Engelmann Pricklypear (_Opuntia engelmanni_) is one of the desert’s
most useful plants. Its fruits may be eaten raw and delicious jams and
jellies may be made from them. When young and tender, the young joints
are called “nopalitas” (no-pahl-EE-tahs), and are cooked and eaten.
Ranchmen burn off the spines to supply hungry cattle with food when the
range is poor. In the lower elevations of the park a lovely
purple-colored species is found, known as purple-tinge cactus.

17. Strawberry Cactus (_Echinocereus stramineus_) has one of the
desert’s tastiest fruits. When ripe, the fruit resembles a strawberry in
texture and is delicious served with cream. The blossom is a deep red
and is one of the park’s gems of floral beauty. Large numbers of these
dome-shaped plant mounds may be observed along the highways throughout
the park.

18. Brownpitaya (_Echinocereus chloranthus_) is one of the so-called
rainbow cactus group. Notice the banded color separation of the short
needles. The small brown flowers grow around the plant in large numbers
during the bloom period. Another variety, which grows at low elevations
in the park, has yellow-orange blossoms reaching a diameter of 4 inches.

19. Mountain-Mahogany (_Cercocarpus eximius_). The wood is extremely
hard, so brittle that it may be broken very easily. Deer browse on the
leaves, and, outside the park, cattle and sheep feed upon it.

20. Lichen. Raise your eyes to the exposed barren escarpments of Casa
Grande and other rock outcroppings. Here you observe greens, blacks, and
other colors. Much of this color may be attributed to the lichens
(LYK-ehnz) encrusting the bare rock surfaces.

The small colorful organisms are the first visible signs of life to gain
a foothold on rocks. Without true roots, this little “mutual” obtains
moisture from the atmosphere. A lichen is actually a fungus and an alga
living together in mutual dependence (one provides board and the other
room for both). As a product of their life processes, carbonic acid is
formed. This slowly disintegrates the rock, helping to form soil, thus
aiding in the production of suitable living conditions for higher types
of plants.

21. Ash (_Fraxinus_ sp.). Ash has long been identified as a very useful
wood; even the early Indians utilized it for paddles, bows, arrows, etc.
The winged seed resembles a small canoe paddle.

22. One-Seed Juniper (_Juniperus monosperma_). There are four junipers
found in the park. (You have already seen two of the others along this
trail.) This one is so named because it has but one seed in each berry.
Junipers (often miscalled cedars) are distinguished from other
cone-bearers by the seeds being enclosed in a berry instead of a cone.
The wood is resistant to decay and used much for posts. Of course, in a
National Park, trees are preserved for their scenic and watershed
protection value and are not harvested for commercial purposes.

23. Another picture just ahead—Striking view of Juniper Canyon.

                    _Help Protect the Park from FIRE
                 Please Smoke Only in Designated Areas_

                           ORIENTATION POINT

As an inducement for hikers desiring to continue farther along this
trail, an orientation table has been constructed about 1½ miles beyond
this point. The table points out the major landscape features together
with their elevations. From the same general area, a spectacular view of
the rugged Big Bend country may be enjoyed.

                        GEOLOGICAL SIGNIFICANCE

Millions of years ago, the ocean which extended from the Gulf of Mexico
to the Arctic Circle covered this part of west Texas. Muds, sands, and
gravels were deposited in the bottom of that ocean. In these sands and
gravels were preserved the remains of fish, shellfish, and various other
forms of sea life.

Tremendous pressures within the globe’s interior caused the earth’s
surface to rise in this region and the waters to recede. Much of the
area became swampy, forming suitable habitat for the giant dinosaurs.
Peat beds were compressed to form coal deposits. The remains of these
coal beds as well as of petrified trees and dinosaur bones may be seen
in the rock exposed in various parts of the park. At a still later date
there were more extensive earth movements which caused great breaks to
occur in the earth’s surface.

    [Illustration: _Sierra del Carmen in Mexico_]

Generally speaking, the geologic structure in the Big Bend area is a
“sunken block” that might be compared to cutting through the elevated
landscape twice. One cut is along the Sierra del Carmen mountains on the
east, and the other at Santa Elena Canyon on the west. The area between
the two cuts has sunk an average of several thousand feet. The central
part of this block has been arched upward forming the Mariscal, Chisos,
and Christmas Mountains.

Part of this uplift was caused by volcanic activity. Large masses of
molten rock pushed toward the earth’s surface and arched and deformed
the overlying sedimentary layers that had long before been deposited on
the floor of the ocean. The Chisos Mountains were formed by this
volcanic pressure.

As you look south or north, you see an extensive plain that is underlain
very largely by sedimentary rock layers. The isolated peaks for the most
part were caused by hot lava that pushed up from below, then cooled to
make the present highlands. This is also true of the Chisos Mountains
which are a much larger mass. Cooling of these melted rocks caused
fracture joints, or shrinkage cracks, and weathering along these breaks
caused the columns, spires, buttresses, and pinnacles that you see in
all directions near you. Forces of erosion have done most of the
carving, forming the various rugged features near at hand.

The geological history is very complex and cannot be even summarized in
a few paragraphs. Park Rangers can give you additional information
regarding the geological history, or explain the origin of features you
may wish to know more about.


                                                             Round Trip

    A. Lost Mine Trail                                          3 hours
    B. Juniper Flats                                            2 hours
    C. Window Trail                                            3½ hours
    D. South Rim Loop Trail                                    10 hours
    A. Juniper Flats                                            2 hours
    B. Window Trail                                            3½ hours
    C. South Rim Loop Trail                                     9 hours
    D. Pack Trips by special arrangement.
    A. Santa Elena Canyon                                     4-6 hours
       1. Visit Mouth of Canyon.
       2. Castolon trading post.
       3. Terlingua and Study Butte ghost mining towns (outside park)
    B. Boquillas Canyon                                       4-6 hours
       1. Excellent View of Del Carmen Mountains and Mexican Village
          of Boquillas.
    A. From the Basin through the “Window.”
    B. Del Carmen from Vicinity of Lower Tornillo and Boquillas.
    C. Chisos Mountains from vicinity of Lower Tornillo and Boquillas.
    D. Chisos Mountains from vicinity of Santa Elena Canyon and Study
       Butte Area.
    A. Over Casa Grande from the Basin.
    B. Over the Del Carmen from vicinity of Hot Springs and Boquillas.
    C. Over the Chisos Mountains from Santa Elena area.
    A. Over 55 mammals have been identified to date.
    B. Approximately 200 birds have been identified to date, including
       the rare Colima warbler and Aplomado falcon.
       Fifty-four reptiles, which include 4 species of turtles, 22
       species of lizards, and 28 species of snakes.
 7. WILDFLOWERS, TREES, AND SHRUBS (1,100 plants identified to date)
    A. Cactuses and other desert flowers are usually at their height
       of bloom from the latter part of March to the middle of April.
    B. Semi-desert shrubs—mostly July, August, and early September,
       depending upon rain.
    C. Autumn foliage coloring—late November and first half of
    A. The oldest rocks (Persimmon Gap) are comparable in age and
       structure to those found in the Appalachian Mountains.
    B. The Lowland area is underlain by rock with fossil content,
       comparable to the Gulf Coast and Great Plains areas.
    C. Chisos Mountain volcanic area is comparable in age and
       structure to the great volcanic activity period of the

    [Illustration: _Santa Elena Canyon_]

    [Illustration: _Mariscal Canyon_
    (Photo by 111th Photo Sec., Texas Nat’l Guard)]

Big Bend is one of the newest of the great, scenic National Parks,
having been established June 12, 1944. A unit of the National Park
System, it is administered by the National Park Service, U. S.
Department of the Interior.

                               MISSION 66

MISSION 66 is a 10 year development program, now in progress, to enable
the National Park Service to help you enjoy and understand the Parks and
Monuments, and at the same time, preserve their scenic and scientific
values for your children and for future generations.

                       CONSERVATION—YOU CAN HELP

If you are interested in the work of the National Park Service and in
the cause of conservation in general, you can give active expression of
this interest, and lend support by alining yourself with one of the
numerous conservation organizations which act as spokesmen for those who
wish our scenic heritage to be kept unimpaired for the enjoyment of
future generations.

           This booklet is published in cooperation with the
                      National Park Service by the

                Box 1562-P, Gila Pueblo, Globe, Arizona

   _which is a non-profit distributing organization pledged to aid in
    the preservation and interpretation of southwestern features of
                    outstanding national interest._

The Association lists for sale many interesting and authentic
publications for adults and children, and color slides on Southwestern
subjects. These make fine gifts for birthdays, parties, and special
occasions, and many prove to be of value to children in their school
work and hobbies.

For the complete sales list of more than 100 publications and 1700 color
slides on Southwestern Indians, geology, ruins, plants, animals,
history, etc., you can obtain one by mail by writing to the above

                            * * * * * * * *

                             ALSO AVAILABLE
  are the following booklets of information on Big Bend National Park:

  “A GUIDE FOR THE BIG BEND,” by Maxwell and Koch may be purchased from
          National Park Concessions or Big Bend Natural History
  “BIG BEND NATIONAL PARK,” by Ray Scott, may be purchased from National
          Park Concessions, Inc., Big Bend National Park, Texas
                                                                   $ .50
  “PLANTS OF BIG BEND NATIONAL PARK,” by McDougall and Sperry may be
          purchased from Big Bend Natural History Association or
          National Park Concessions, Big Bend National Park

            The following may also be purchased in the park:

  “ANIMALS OF THE SOUTHWEST DESERTS,” Olin and Cannon. Handsome
          illustrations, full description and life habits of the 42 most
          interesting and common mammals, members of the strange animal
          population of the lower desert country of the Southwest below
          the 4,500 foot elevation. 112 pp., 60 illus., color cover,
  “FLOWERS OF THE SOUTHWEST DESERTS,” by Natt N. Dodge and Jeanne R.
          Janish. In 100 beautifully drawn plates are illustrations of
          145 of the most interesting and spectacular plants of the
          deserts of the Southwest, with descriptive text. 112 pp.,
          color paper cover. May be purchased from Southwestern
          Monuments Association, Box 1562, Globe, Arizona
  “FLOWERS OF THE SOUTHWEST MESAS,” by Pauline M. Patraw and Jeanne R.
          Janish. A companion volume to the Deserts flower book, but
          depicting and describing more than 150 common and interesting
          plants of the higher plateau country of the Southwest. 112
          pp., color paper cover. May be purchased from the Southwestern
          Monuments Association, Box 1562, Globe, Arizona
          Descriptions and illustrations of plants and trees of the
          southern Rocky Mountains and other Southwestern ranges above
          7,000 feet elevation. 112 pp., color cover, paper. May be
          purchased from the Southwestern Monuments Association, Box
          1562, Globe, Arizona


                 Box 1562-P—Gila Pueblo, Globe, Arizona

                          Transcriber’s Notes

—Silently corrected a few typos.

—Retained publication information from the printed edition: this eBook
  is public-domain in the country of publication.

—In the text versions only, text in italics is delimited by

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