The Longdogs

The Longdogs
Willy, Harley (back center), and Gretchen

Westward Ho....Seminole Canyon State Park and Langtry Tx

After a great breakfast made by Helen, we were on the road by 0900 headed through San Antonio on Highway 90 West.  We stopped in Uvalde for lunch and had a quick stop in Del Rio for diesel.  We were on our way to the Trans-Pecos region of Texas but our first stop was Seminole Canyon State Park.

The temperature was dropping as we headed west and it was pretty cool and cloudy. We pulled in around 3:00PM. The first site the rangers sent us to was rather sloped and tight for the RV and truck as well as Steve's car so we asked to move to another site. They cheerfully obliged us and we got all set up. I should mention that we had two vehicles as Helen was only going to be able to travel with us for half the week before she headed on to Tucson for a Team Timex Triathlon Camp. The grandkids took turns riding with me and the Traveling Longdogs so we had some nice individual time which also kept stress levels down.

The sites are decent keeping in mind that this is a desert area and there are no trees. They all had nice covers over the tables. We were surprised at the number of tents considering the temperature, wind, and rain possibilities.

You can see quite a ways off into the distance particularly if the day is clear. We were up on top of the hills although it is hard to tell from this photo.

Seminole Canyon State Park has primitive, water nearby, and water/electric sites. They also have day use sites with fire rings and grills.

There are 8.7 miles of hiking trails.

The Fate Bell Shelter is what most people travel to Seminole Canyon to see. It contains Pecos River rock art dated 4000 years old....considered to be some of North America's oldest pictographs. Unfortunately, we didn't get to see it this trip due to arrival time and the chilly weather. You are only allowed to go down to this area with a ranger and the trips are scheduled for 10:00AM and 3:00PM (only 10:00AM in June, July, and August. So, we have something to look forward to for another visit.

This is an Internet photo of the pictographs preserved at Seminole Canyon. Time your visit for the ranger tour as well as the temps outside.

The next morning we were off to the west again but we had a planned stop at Langtry which is on a loop just off of Hwy 90. Nearby, at Dead Man's Gulch, a silver spike joined the transcontinental tracks of the Southern Pacific's Sunset Route on January 12, 1883. This joined tracks from New Orleans to San Francisco.

And then there was Judge Roy Bean, the Law West of the Pecos. He ruled America's last frontier in the last decades of the 19th century. He was the West's most colorful Justice of the Peace ruling with his own brand of justice.

This Dairy Bar is not the original Jersey Lilly and it was closed so no snacks here.

There is a great Visitor's Center and Museum here which is all free and definitely worth a stop. There is room to park a number of RVs in a marked area on the right side of the road in front of the Visitor's Center right before you get to the car parking.

Lots was happening in the West during those last decades of the 1800's. New towns and tent camps sprang up overnight. They were wild, lawless places crowded with railroad workers and thieves and painted women. It was so bad by 1882 that the railroad asked for help from the Texas Rangers who urged the appointment of a Justice of the Peace.  Roy Bean was a proprietor of a store in Vinegroon, a tent-topped construction camp named after the whip-tailed scorpions that infested the area.

Bean became the first Justice of the Peace for Pecos County which is now Val Verde County on 2 Aug 1882. He tried his first case the week before officially assuming the post.

The next year, Bean moved his court to the new railroad-sponsored town of Lantry. There he had the railroad and the Texas Rangers to back him up. Judge Roy ruled from the combination saloon/billiard hall and courtroom which he called "The Jersey Lilly".

When an accused was brought in, Roy removed his toweling apron, hauled out is single law book, the 1879 Revised Statutes of Texas, and appointed a jury from among his customers. Although legend labels him as the "hanging judge", there is no proof that he ever sentenced a man to be hung. One of the harshest sentences was expulsion where everything was taken from the guilty party and they were expelled from Lantry under threat of the noose if they ever returned. It was very tough to get to other civilization without money, horse, and gun.

Bean was fascinated with the famous English actress Lillie Langtry internationally know as "the Jersey Lily" after whom he named his saloon. "Lily" was misspelled by the sign painter as "Lilly" and the ancient sign still remains.

The cactus garden has some nice walking paths and a couple of picnic tables.

Bean nailed a sign on his home declaring it "Opera House, Town Hall and Seat of Justice" hoping Langtry would perform there some day. He wrote her numerous letters which she did not acknowledge until he wrote that he named the town after her. She finally consented to visit but did not arrive until 1904, several months after the judge died.

After we finished up our visit to this great Visitor's Center, we were off on our way to Terlingua and Big Bend.

The plan was to turn south at Marathon and drive down through the park so we could see the northern part on our way to Terlingua where we had reservations for the RV. Unfortunately, we had a blowout about three miles from Marathon. Luckily it didn't damage the RV and I carry a spare. Steve was able to change the tire and we decided to head on to Alpine which is larger than Marathon to see about getting another tire and then head down to Terlingua.

Oops, no tire place in Alpine either. On to Terlingua.

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