Tuesday, February 19, 2013

When you say, "You'll go back in time," how far back is that?

Any traveler to the region will tell you:
We've got--
Wide Open Spaces
And not many people---
A lone participant in the Chihuahuan Desert Bike Fest
contemplates the ruins of a candellia factory in
Big Bend Ranch State Park

Our population density is VERY low.. the latest census in Brewster County (where Big Bend National Park, Terlingua, Alpine and Marathon are located) counted 1.49 people per square mile. 
In Presidio County (Marfa, Shafter and Presidio), there are 2.03 people per square mile. 
And in Jeff Davis County (Fort Davis and Valentine) there are 1.03 people per square mile.
And those numbers, by a simple measure used by the federal government (fewer than six people per square mile) is FRONTIER.
How long has it been since your hometown has been "frontier," or this sparsely populated?
So you live in Austin?  When was the last time Travis County had a comparable level of population density? Answer:  The earliest census numbers we could find were in 1850, and by that time, Travis County had 3.07 people per square mile.
Dallas? Dallas County had 1.75 people per square mile by 1860, the first census number we could find; and by 1870, it was 7.77 people per square mile.
San Antonio? Bexar County already had 4.81 people per square mile by 1850.
So when you're looking at landscapes like ours, you're looking at a time long before there were cars to take us around.  That's why we love events that put us out in the landscape, and why we think getting around by horse, by foot, or by bike gives you a better idea of what the "frontier" is all about.

Last weekend, riders in the Chihuahuan Desert Bike Fest were treated to "epic" rides in Big Bend Ranch State Park, and because of the involvement of many volunteers and TPWD interpretive staff, they learned quite a bit about our land and our history.

Participants in one of the Friday rides line up at
Barton Warnock Environmental Education Center
Riders on the Contrabando trail complex in
Big Bend Ranch State Park

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