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Texas | Trips

Guadalupe Mountains National Park
Williams Ranch

Culberson County, West Texas

by Barclay Gibson

Area Hotels:
El Paso Hotels | Van Horn Hotels | Pecos Hotels

Guadalupe Mountains National Park

"Park information, including park conditions, closures or restrictions, weather and program information, may be found on the park’s website at www.nps.gov/gumo/ or by contacting the Headquarters (Pine Springs) Visitor Center at (915) 828-3251 x2124. The Headquarters (Pine Springs) Visitor Center is open daily (except for Christmas) from 8:00 AM until 4:30 PM. There is no public transportation to the park. The nearest gasoline, lodging and services are 35 miles away. Motorists traveling past the park along U.S. Hwy 62/180 may tune in to the park’s Traveler Information Station at 1610 AM for up-to-date park information."

Williams Ranch Tx Entry Sign
Williams Ranch Entry Sign
Photo Courtesy Barclay Gibson, May 2011

Handing me the keys to the entry gate, the Park Ranger casually mentioned that there was a seven mile dirt road to the Williams Ranch House. It didn't sound all that bad at the time. But, any way you look at it, seven miles on this rocky, bouncy road that constantly crosses even rockier dry gullies, is a long way to drive. Especially considering that the only thing to see when you get there is just a single structure that in and of itself is not particularly outstanding.

The desolate Williams Ranch is located, as the crow flies, sixty miles north of Van Horn, ninety miles east of El Paso and just over fifty miles southwest of Carlsbad, New Mexico. Already one can tell that this destination is truly right smack dab in the middle of nowhere. What better reason does one need to go see it? Especially when you can drive practically right up to the front door.

Williams Ranch Tx Ranch Road
Ranch Road
Photo Courtesy Barclay Gibson, May 2011

It is quite a shock to leave the wide, smooth, paved Carlsbad to El Paso Highway with its 75 mile per hour speed limit, to face this rigorous journey testing man and machine. The time stamp on the digital photos shows it takes right at an hour to drive the seven miles to the ranch. I'm not complaining because part of the road parallels the old Butterfield Stage Trail of the 1870s. Just the thought of an extended trip on a stage coach in these dusty old surroundings is chilling.

Williams Ranch Tx Butterfield Trail Sign
Butterfield Stage Trail Sign
Photo Courtesy Barclay Gibson, May 2011

Williams Ranch T x Ranch House
Approaching Williams Ranch House
Photo Courtesy Barclay Gibson, May 2011

The lonely ranch house sits on a slope near the western base of the Guadalupe Mountains within the present boundaries of the Guadalupe Mountains National Park. Although Signal Peak can't be seen from the house, it is less than two miles away. Without a doubt, any residence in this location is going to provide only the barest of essentials. It appears that the only luxury at all was an attempt to dress up the living room with some, now peeling and unrecognizable, wall paper.

Williams Ranch T x Ranch House
Photo Courtesy Barclay Gibson, May 2011

Williams Ranch House
Williams Ranch House
Photo Courtesy Barclay Gibson, May 2011

I can't imagine what life on the ranch was like a hundred years ago. What remains of an old Model T truck with its wooden spoke wheels gives me an idea. The poor old truck died just a few hundred yards from the house. As it looks now, it appears to have been a source for used Model T parts for more than 75 years. Even its cargo, a rusty old barrel, still sits patiently waiting to be delivered.

Williams Ranch Tx Ranch Truck
Photo Courtesy Barclay Gibson, May 2011

Williams RanchT x Porch View
Williams Ranch House Porch View
Photo Courtesy Barclay Gibson, May 2011

Just about the only thing pleasant the house has to offer is its long distance view across the dry Salt Flat to Dell City. The mountains in the distance are nearly forty miles away. This just may be the longest back porch view of any house in Texas. It is for sure the loneliest view.

Williams Ranch Tx Ranch Truck
Photo Courtesy Barclay Gibson, May 2011

Williams Ranch Tx Ranch Truck
Photo Courtesy Barclay Gibson, May 2011

© Barclay Gibson

Forum:
Wow, I was so surprised to read Mr. Gibson's article, photos AND an essay which I thoroughly enjoyed. I've visited the Guadalupe Mtns. twice, not to this place, though, and I felt myself on the front porch of that remote ranch house with the high pitched moan of the wind in my ears. It evoked that loneliness and sense of isolation he wrote about, but his photograph would have done it just the same all by itself. Lagniappe with the remarks. - Frances Giles, June 03, 2013

Culberson County 1920s map
1920s Culberson County map
From Texas state map #10749

Courtesy Texas General Land Office

Drive
Area Destinations
  • The Drives to Guadalupe Peak
  • Guadalupe Peak & El Capitan
  • Salt Flat
  • Salt Falt Hudspeth Co Ghost Town


  • Related Topics:
    Trips
    Texas Drives
    West Texas Towns
    Texas State Parks

    Area Hotels:
    El Paso Hotels | Van Horn Hotels | Pecos Hotels
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