Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Riding to McGuirk's Dream, Part 1

TPWD's (and TMT board member) Linda Hedges
leads an interpretive hike to Casa Contrabando
during the Chihuahuan Desert Bike Fest
Recently, we participated in the Chihuahuan Desert Bike Fest down in Lajitas and Big Bend Ranch State Park.  We took the Festival's Contrabando Ride, 11+ miles in the state park, led by volunteers and knowledgable TPWD interpreters.  We headed north from Barton Warnock Environmental Education Center on Hwy 170, the River Road, up single and double-track trails into Big Bend Ranch State Park.  Halfway through our ride, we ended up at Contrabando Water Hole and the ruins of H.W. McGuirk's stone house from the late 1890s.

From TPWD:

"H.W. McGuirk began ranching in the area around 1885.  He expanded operations and moved his headquarters here to Contrabando Waterhole about 12 years later.   But water contamination in the spring, possibly poisoning, soon forced him to abandon this site and move to the Rio Grande, where he founded the community of Lajitas.

fireplace in the stone house ruin
Begun sometime during the late 1890s, the dwelling at Contrabando Waterhole began as a "patio"--a cleared area enclosed by a short, stacked stone wall.  The building was constructed within these defining perimeter walls, and consisted of 4 rooms built over the course of at least two building campaigns.  Both the original dwelling and the attached addition emply the same mazonry wall construction techniques, utilizing locally-collected native Boquillas flagstone in a random-laid patter, with a minimum of earth mortar used to stabilize the walls. 
There is evidence that, as the structure fell to ruin, efforts were made to reconstruct some of the walls using smaller rocks, tightly packed.  Though very little of the wood framing remains, one can see the location of the window and door openings."  
We loved visiting the Stone House ruin
on the Contrabando ride during the
Chihuhuan Desert Bike Fest.
Thanks to all, including Stonewear
Designs, for your rugged Echo Top!

Our BIG BIG thanks to all involved putting on the Festival, from TPWD and its staff from Big Bend Ranch State Park, Barton Warnock Environmental Education Center, and from across the state, Desert Sports, Big Bend Trail Alliance and many other dedicated volunteers and willing organizations.

No comments: