Monday, September 24, 2012

A Couple of Good Stories, a Historic Route Rerouted and Wild Rose Pass at Dawn

Click for a closer view and see that the current road
is not the historic Wild Rose Pass
From the Claytons Overlook exhibit at
Chihuahuan Desert Nature Center
Taken at dawn yesterday, looking north
Clayton's Overlook exhibit at
Chihuahuan Desert Nature Center
Taken at dawn yesterday, looking south
Yesterday in the low light of dawn, we drove through Wild Rose Pass between Fort Davis and Balmorhea.  Always a lovely drive, we were cheered to see so much GREEN, an welcome result of the summer rains we've been so lucky to receive. 

This area burned hot and long during last year's wildfires and was BLACK for much of the spring and summer of 2011, but now, there is vegetation growing all over the pass.
A popular scenic drive and cycling route (riding it downhill from Fort Davis to Balmorhea is so much fun!), it is also an important historic passageway.

The Texas State Historical Association posts this on their "Handbook of Texas Online" "WILD ROSE PASS. Wild Rose Pass is ten miles northeast of Fort Davis in east central Jeff Davis County (at 30°43' N, 103°47' W). State Highway 17 goes through the pass, which is two miles long. Elevations in the pass range from 4,320 feet to 4,546 feet above sea level, some 900 to 700 feet lower than the unnamed neighboring peaks to the east and west. The pass was supposedly named by Lt. William H. C. Whiting, who traveled through the area in March 1849, for the Demaree rose, which grows at springs and seeps in the area. Local legend has it that William A. (Bigfoot) Wallace, who in the 1850s was a driver on the Skillman mail route from San Antonio to El Paso, once shot a buck atop a nearby cliff in Wild Rose Pass. The dead animal toppled over the cliff, slid down the mountainside, and came to a halt directly in front of the coach, whereupon Wallace reportedly said, "Them's the first mountains I ever seen where the game comes to heel after being killed." Another story holds that in 1859 a band of Mescalero Apaches waylaid a mail coach, killed the guard, and made off with the mail. The Indians became so absorbed by the illustrations in the captured newspapers, however, that they allowed themselves to be caught by pursuing soldiers. Fourteen Mescaleros were killed, and thereafter the Apaches believed that pictures were bad luck and avoided them."

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