Pecos River as Folklore by
TE's Crusty Sidekick
Castle Gap, and Pecos the word
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|The word Pecos has
that rare mix of mystery and simplicity. Even if you don't pronounce it properly
(Pay cuss) it's still fun to say. Since it doesn't mean anything, it doesn't get
much use outside of the geographic reference. The reference is always "West of
the Pecos" - never "East of the Pecos".|
Pecos Bill wouldn't be remembered
if he was Trinity Bill or Salt-Fork-of-the-Brazos Bill. Guadalupe Bill? Medina
Bill? I don't think so.
cantaloupes are so famous, they'll loan money on them. |
is world-renowned for its cantaloupe. Sweet, uncomplicated, moisture-laded, rough-skinned
globes from an arid semi-desert landscape. Here again we have both mystery and
The fame of the melons was spread when they were served in
the dining cars of the Texas Pacific Railroad.
Although the exact location varied and can't be pinpointed, there is a marker
7 miles South of the town of Crane
at Hwy 385. The marker's text describes the shallow-water ford that was used more
than 100 years before the river was dammed. The name comes from the number of
animal skulls that were found on the riverbanks. It is believed that parched animals
drank themselves to death when they finally reached water.
was also an important site on the Butterfield Stage Route (1858-1861) which
linked the Saints of Louis and Francisco.
Upton County between Crane and McCamey
Photo Courtesy of Fiddle
Gap, "where the gold is buried"|
Photo Courtesy of Fiddle Blue
Only 12 miles north-northeast from Horsehead Crossing is the legendary Castle
Gap. The mile-long break in the ridge of the Castle Mountains requires that
the two peaks be given separate names. King Mountain is on the southern
end; while Castle Mountain is the northern peak.
who was anyone in West Texas history seems to have visited the Gap, beginning
with Cabeza de Vaca. The scouting expedition of Captain Felipe Teran is believed
to have visited the Gap as well as multitudes of Comanches and later Texas Ranger
"Rip" Ford. It was also used by the Butterfield Stagecoach Line as a way station.
Oliver Loving and Charles Goodnight later made the Gap a crossing on their soon-to-be-famous
The railroad went south of the Gap and decreased traffic
allowed erosion to close the road for some time.
There have been no
fewer than eight separate stories of buried treasure in or around the Gap. Outlaw
gold, Mexican Gold, Butterfield Stagecoach money and even riches from Maximilian's
short-lived "Empire of Mexico".
Pecos the Word
Pecos used to be used as a verb.
Like Shanghai. It meant to rob someone and roll the body down a steep river bank
where it was unlikely to be found until you were long gone. Murder was optional.
It's not heard much anymore, since criminals now don't go to the the effort of
concealing their crimes.
I Pecos ---- We Pecos
You Pecos ---- Y'all
He, she or it Pecoses ---- They Pecos
My wife Pecosed her first three husbands.
That was the Sheriff, y'all Pecosed
I was learnin' my boy to Pecos when I got snakebit.
been a lot of Pecosin' goin' on at the Sheffield Riverwalk.
best remembered for it's geographic employment by "Judge" Roy Bean. He was "The
Law West of the Pecos" and I think the phrase should have been retired with his
death. It seems every small business "West of the Pecos" has been tempted to use
the phrase in their advertising. I want to thank businesses that resisted the
temptation. It is second only to "The best little (whatever) in Texas" as a worn
out advertising slogan.
There's the "Best Barbecue West of the Pecos"
and "The Biggest Doughnuts West of the Pecos". There's even "The Law(yer) West
of the Pecos" in Marathon. No one claims to be the biggest, brightest or shiniest
of anything "East of the Pecos".
The only place you can be in West Texas
that isn't West or East of the Pecos is actually on the Pecos. This is exactly
where San Angelo Standard-Times reporter Sandra Billingsley made
a recent canoe trip with her husband. Click here for a detailed description and
close look of the rarely seen last 60 miles
of the Pecos.
© John Troesser
| Pecos River
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