Texas Historical Commission
Between 2004 and 2010, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) archeologists conducted reconnaissance level archeological investigations of selected trails at Big Bend Ranch State Park, Brewster and Presidio Counties, Texas. The purpose of the investigations was to provide cultural resources information that would be beneficial in developing a multi-use trail system in the park that would avoid both direct and potential secondary impacts to archeological sites, when possible, or provide recommendations for mitigative measures, when necessary. These investigations also provide the baseline data needed for conducting future conditions assessments on these sites.
During the course of these investigations, a total of 188 kilometers (117 miles) of trails were surveyed. The majority of these trails followed existing ranch roads, while the remainder followed drainages, existing livestock or game trails, or were newly created. New trail construction was coordinated with the Texas Historical Commission via interim reports. On average, the survey corridors were approximately 100 m (330 ft) wide, resulting in a total of about 7,456 acres being examined for archeological resources during the project. The examined trail routes are scattered across the park, providing a good cross-section of much of the topography in the area and the archeological sites that occur in these settings. Seventy-two previously recorded archeological sites were examined during the investigations, and a total of 159 previously unknown archeological sites, with cultural components ranging in age from the Early Paleoindian period to the mid-twentieth century, were recorded. Among the Native American site types are open habitations, rockshelter habitations, rock imagery sites, quarry sites, lithic scatters, isolated hearths, rock cairns and vision quest sites. Euro-American sites include open campsites, a wide variety of ranching facilities, cinnabar mining sites, candelilla wax processing sites, and historic graffiti. A total of 169 prehistoric and historic isolated finds were also documented during the investigation, consisting primarily of isolated cultural features or individual artifacts.
Discussions of the archeological resources in this report include recommendations for the management and protection of sites examined during the present investigations. Site monitoring schedules and recommendations for nomination of significant sites as official State Antiquities Landmarks are often included.
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