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The Big Bend is a colloquial name of a geographic region in the western part of the state of Texas in the United States along the border with Mexico, roughly defined as the counties north of the prominent northward bend in the Rio Grande as it passes through the gap between the Chisos Mountains in Texas and the Sierra Madre Oriental in Mexico. It is sometimes loosely defined as the part of Texas south of U.S. Highway 90 and west of the Pecos River. The region includes three counties in Texas: Brewster, Jeff Davis and Presidio.
Texas is the second largest state in the United States by both area and population. Geographically located in the South Central region of the country, Texas shares borders with the U.S. states of Louisiana to the east, Arkansas to the northeast, Oklahoma to the north, New Mexico to the west, and the Mexican states of Chihuahua, Coahuila, Nuevo León, and Tamaulipas to the southwest, while the Gulf of Mexico is to the southeast.
The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States or America, is a country composed of 50 states, a federal district, five major self-governing territories, and various possessions. At 3.8 million square miles, the United States is the world's third or fourth largest country by total area and is slightly smaller than the entire continent of Europe's 3.9 million square miles. With a population of over 327 million people, the U.S. is the third most populous country. The capital is Washington, D.C., and the largest city by population is New York City. Forty-eight states and the capital's federal district are contiguous in North America between Canada and Mexico. The State of Alaska is in the northwest corner of North America, bordered by Canada to the east and across the Bering Strait from Russia to the west. The State of Hawaii is an archipelago in the mid-Pacific Ocean. The U.S. territories are scattered about the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, stretching across nine official time zones. The extremely diverse geography, climate, and wildlife of the United States make it one of the world's 17 megadiverse countries.
Mexico, officially the United Mexican States, is a country in the southern portion of North America. It is bordered to the north by the United States; to the south and west by the Pacific Ocean; to the southeast by Guatemala, Belize, and the Caribbean Sea; and to the east by the Gulf of Mexico. Covering almost 2,000,000 square kilometres (770,000 sq mi), the nation is the fifth largest country in the Americas by total area and the 13th largest independent state in the world. With an estimated population of over 120 million people, the country is the eleventh most populous state and the most populous Spanish-speaking state in the world, while being the second most populous nation in Latin America after Brazil. Mexico is a federation comprising 31 states and Mexico City, a special federal entity that is also the capital city and its most populous city. Other metropolises in the state include Guadalajara, Monterrey, Puebla, Toluca, Tijuana and León.
The region is sparsely populated, arid, and rugged, containing the Chisos and the Davis Mountain ranges. The region has more than one million acres (4,000 km²) of public lands, including Big Bend National Park and Big Bend Ranch State Park along the north side of the Rio Grande. It is also the home of the McDonald Observatory.
The Davis Mountains, originally known as Limpia Mountains, are a range of mountains in West Texas, located near Fort Davis, after which they are named. The fort was named for then United States Secretary of War and later Confederate President Jefferson Davis. They are a popular site for camping and hiking and the region includes Fort Davis National Historic Site and Davis Mountains State Park. The historical and architectural value of the fort, along with the rugged natural environment of the park are a significant destination for tourism in Texas.
For the Texas State Park see Big Bend Ranch State Park.
The McDonald Observatory is an astronomical observatory located near the unincorporated community of Fort Davis in Jeff Davis County, Texas, United States. The facility is located on Mount Locke in the Davis Mountains of West Texas, with additional facilities on Mount Fowlkes, approximately 1.3 kilometers (0.81 mi) to the northeast. The observatory is part of the University of Texas at Austin. It is an organized research unit of the College of Natural Sciences.
The largest towns in the region are Alpine, Presidio, Marfa, Sanderson, Terlingua, and Marathon.
Alpine is a city in and the county seat of Brewster County, Texas, United States. The population was 5,905 at the 2010 census. The town has an elevation of 4,475 ft, and the surrounding mountain peaks are over a mile (1600 m) high. The university, hospital, library, and retail make Alpine the center of the sprawling 12,000 square miles (31,000 km2) but wide open Big Bend area including Brewster, Presidio, and Jeff Davis Counties.
Presidio is a city in Presidio County, Texas, United States. It stands on the Rio Grande, on the opposite side of the U.S.–Mexico border from Ojinaga, Chihuahua. The name originates from the Spanish and means "jail". The population was 4,167 at the 2000 census, and had increased to 4,426 as of the 2010 US census.
Marfa is a city in the high desert of the Trans-Pecos in far West Texas, between the Davis Mountains and Big Bend National Park. It is the county seat of Presidio County, and its population as of the 2010 United States Census was 1,981. The city was founded in the early 1880s as a water stop; the population increased during World War II, but the growth stalled and reversed somewhat during the late 20th century. Today, Marfa is a tourist destination and a major center for minimalist art. Attractions include Building 98, the Chinati Foundation, artisan shops, historical architecture, a classic Texas town square, modern art installments, art galleries, and the Marfa lights.
Balmorhea State Park is a 46-acre (19 ha) state park located on the San Solomon Springs in Reeves County, Texas, opened in 1968. The closest major town is Balmorhea, Texas. The park is open year-round.
The Trans-Pecos, as originally defined in 1887 by the Texas geologist Robert T. Hill, is the portion of Texas that lies west of the Pecos River. The term is considered synonymous with "Far West Texas", a subdivision of West Texas. The Trans-Pecos is part of the Chihuahuan Desert, the largest desert in North America. It is the most mountainous and arid portion of the state, and most of its area is vast and sparsely populated, comprising seven of the ten largest counties by area in Texas. The area is known for the natural environment of the Big Bend and the gorge of the Rio Grande, part of which has been designated a National Wild and Scenic Rivers System. With the notable exceptions of Big Bend Ranch State Park, Big Bend National Park and the Guadalupe Mountains National Park, the vast majority of the Trans-Pecos region consists of privately owned ranchland. However, the majority of the region's population reside in the El Paso metropolitan area.
The Texas Tech University Press, founded in 1971, is the university press of the American Texas Tech University, located in Lubbock, Texas.
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Presidio County is a county located in the U.S. state of Texas. As of the 2010 census, its population was 7,818. Its county seat is Marfa. The county was created in 1850 and later organized in 1875. Presidio County is in the Trans-Pecos region of West Texas and is named for the ancient border settlement of Presidio del Norte. It is east from the Mexican border.
Brewster County is a county located in the western part of the U.S. state of Texas. As of the 2010 census, the population was 9,232. Its county seat and only city is Alpine. The county is named for Colonel Henry Percy Brewster, a Secretary of War for the Republic of Texas.
The Pecos River originates in north-central New Mexico and flows into Texas, emptying into the Rio Grande. Its headwaters are on the eastern slope of the Sangre de Cristo mountain range in Mora County north of Pecos, NM, at an elevation of over 12,000 feet (3,700 m) feet. The river flows for 926 miles (1,490 km) before reaching the Rio Grande near Del Rio. Its drainage basin encompasses about 44,300 square miles (115,000 km2).
West Texas is a loosely defined part of the U.S. state of Texas, generally encompassing the arid and semiarid lands west of a line drawn between the cities of Wichita Falls, Abilene, and Del Rio.
Mescalero or Mescalero Apache is an Apache tribe of Southern Athabaskan Native Americans. The tribe is federally recognized as the Mescalero Apache Tribe of the Mescalero Apache Reservation, located in south central New Mexico.
Terlingua is a mining district and census-designated place (CDP) in southwestern Brewster County, Texas, United States. It is located near the Rio Grande and the villages of Lajitas and Study Butte, Texas, as well as the Mexican state of Chihuahua. The discovery of cinnabar, from which the metal mercury is extracted, in the mid-1880s brought miners to the area, creating a city of 2,000 people. The only remnants of the mining days are a ghost town of the Howard Perry-owned Chisos Mining Company and several nearby capped and abandoned mines, most notably the California Hill, the Rainbow, the 248, and the Study Butte mines. The mineral terlinguaite was first found in the vicinity of California Hill.
State Highway 17, or SH 17, runs from Marfa to Pecos in west Texas. The road is maintained by the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT).
The Chisos Mountains are a mountain range located in the Big Bend area of West Texas, United States. The mountain range is contained entirely within the boundaries of Big Bend National Park. This is the only mountain range in the United States to be fully contained within the boundary of a national park. It is also the southernmost mountain range in the mainland United States.
The Solitario is a large geologic formation in Big Bend Ranch State Park in West Texas. When viewed from above, it suggests an impact crater; though it is actually the eroded remains of a laccolith. The approximate center of the Solitario is located 56.8 km (35.3 mi) east southeast of Presidio, Texas, just west of the line dividing Brewster County, Texas and Presidio County, Texas. The formation covers a circular area of approximately 135 km2 (52 sq mi). The geology of the Solitario is complex. In 1988 the state of Texas purchased the property containing the Solitario and created Big Bend Ranch State Park.
The geography of Texas is diverse and large. Occupying about 7% of the total water and land area of the U.S., it is the second largest state after Alaska, and is the southernmost part of the Great Plains, which end in the south against the folded Sierra Madre Oriental of Mexico. Texas is in the south-central part of the United States of America, and is considered to form part of the U.S. South and also part of the U.S. Southwest.
State Highway 118, or SH 118, is a 155.3-mile (249.9 km) state highway in the U.S. state of Texas that runs from Big Bend National Park north to Kent and passes through the towns of Study Butte, Alpine, and Fort Davis. SH 118 is maintained by the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT). The road lies entirely within the Trans-Pecos region of Texas. SH 118 is a two-lane road along its length except for a section in Alpine where the route follows the path of U.S. Route 67 and U.S. Route 90. All of the route except for the 2.8-mile (4.5 km) section between Big Bend National Park and Farm to Market Road 170 is included in the Texas Historical Commission's Texas Mountain Trail.
Boquillas was a small settlement in Texas, located on the northern banks of the Rio Grande. It was located within Brewster County, 5 miles northeast of San Vicente, Texas. The place existed to service the mining operations at Boquillas del Carmen, Mexico, just across the Rio Grande.
Big Bend Ranch State Park is a 311,000-acre (126,000 ha) state park located on the Rio Grande in Brewster and Presidio counties, Texas. It is the largest state park in Texas. The closest major town is Presidio, Texas, where the state park's head office is located.
Buchel County was a former Texas county. Its area is now completely contained in the present Brewster County.
The Comanche Trail, sometimes called the Comanche War Trail or the Comanche Trace, was a travel route in Texas established by the nomadic Comanche nation. The route ran from the Comanche summer hunting grounds to the Rio Grande, where the Spanish had established a line of missions and presidios during the eighteenth century in what was then called New Spain, which the Comanche would raid. Although called a "trail," the Comanche Trail was actually a network of parallel and branching trails, always following sources of good water. By 1857 parts of the trail had been named and appeared on maps.
The Sierra Vieja is a small mountain range in the Trans-Pecos region of West Texas, 42 miles northwest of the city of Marfa in far western Jeff Davis County and northwestern Presidio County. The range extends 16 miles south, from just east of the Van Horn Mountains. Locally known as the Candelaria Rim Rock, the Sierra Vieja comprise the southernmost tip of the Southern Rocky Mountains in North America. Sierra Vieja is Spanish for "old mountains."
Comanche Springs was an aquifer of six artesian springs located in the Trans-Pecos region of West Texas. The groundwater source originated from a Comanchean limestone fault combined within the bountiful Edwards Aquifer and the Glass Mountains.