Del Rio to Sanderson on the Pecos Trail

Pecos Trail between Langtry and Dryden

Pecos Trail between Pumpville and Sanderson, Texas, by Kathy Weiser-Alexander.

Traveling from Del Rio to Sanderson, Texas, along the Pecos Trail is a ghost town and ghost ranch experience filled with a rich history. The 120-mile drive is situated in the Chihuahuan Desert, which is broken by numerous small mountain ranges as well as low-level river valleys formed by the Rio Grande and the Pecos Rivers.

From the county seat of Val Verde County – Del Rio, to the county seat of Terrell County – Sanderson, the long stretch across an arid terrain provides numerous peeks at lifestyles long past from 4,000-year-old Native American art sites at Seminole Canyon to the Wild West days of Judge Roy Bean at Langtry, railroad history, and a numerous old ghost towns that are crumbling in the desert heat.

When the Galveston, Harrisburg, & San Antonio Railroad made its way through the area, a number of town sites and stations developed to fuel the steam engines. Soon afterward numerous large ranches developed in the area, shipping their cattle along the railheads. Later, when a highway was paved through the region, several small spots in the road appeared as rest and service

Lake Amistad

An oasis in the desert, Amistad National Recreation Area is located on the US portion of the International Amistad Reservoir.

Lake Amistad

Just about ten miles northwest of Del Rio, the visitor crosses Lake Amistad. Straddling the United States and Mexico, the lake is known for excellent water-based recreation, camping and is surrounded by a landscape rich in prehistoric rock art, along with a wide variety of plant and animal life. The Amistad National Recreation Area is administered by the National Park Service.


Though Comstock, Texas area is still called home to several hundred people, it looks pretty "ghost towny." Kathy Weiser-Alexander.

Though Comstock, Texas area is still called home to several hundred people,
it looks pretty “ghost towny.” Kathy Weiser-Alexander.

Just about 29 miles northwest of Del Rio, Comstock, Texas, like many other small towns in the area, got its start when the Galveston, Harrisburg, & San Antonio Railroad came through the area in 1882. When the town was first platted it was called Sotol (or Soto) City but was soon changed to Comstock, after a railroad dispatcher named John B. Comstock.

The town was granted a post office in 1888, but its remote location and limited resources kept the town from growing quickly. Comstock was at the height of its activity between 1888 and 1910 when the Deaton Stage Line operated between the town’s railroad depot and the city of Ozona some 60 miles north.

Though it is called home to several hundred people today, it is filled with abandoned buildings. See Full Article HERE.

Seminole Canyon State Park

Seminole Canyon Rock Art

Rock art at Seminole Canyon State Park, by Kathy Weiser-Alexander.

About ten miles northwest of Comstock is Seminole Canyon State Park. The historic site, sitting on more than 2,000 acres, displays jagged canyons cut through the Chihuahuan Desert where the Pecos River flows into the Rio Grande. The area has been inhabited by humans for some 12,000 years, who lived in natural rock shelters carved into the canyon walls. Thousands of years later, another culture called the “Archaic people” lived in the dry rock shelters, leaving their mark on the environment through some 200 rock paintings throughout the area. The park contains some of the most outstanding examples not only in Texas but in the world. Extensive pictographs of the Lower Pecos River Style, attributed to the Middle Archaic period of 4,000 years ago, adorn rock shelters throughout its canyons. See more HERE!

The Pecos River & Frontier Folklore

Pecos River Bridge

Highway Bridge over the Pecos River, Kathy Weiser-Alexander.

The Pecos River, one of the major tributaries of the Rio Grande, runs through New Mexico and Texas before it empties into the Rio Grande near Del Rio, Texas. Famous for its frontier folklore, the river flows out of the Pecos Wilderness, through rugged granite canyons and waterfalls, and passes small, high-mountain meadows along its 926-mile journey

Properly pronounced “pay-cuss,” the headwaters of the Pecos River are located north of Pecos, New Mexico, at an elevation of over 12,000 feet on the western slope of the Sangre de Cristo mountain range in Mora County. The river then flows for 926 miles through the eastern portion of New Mexico and through neighboring Texas before it empties into the Rio Grande near Del Rio. The river was named “Pecos” by the Spanish from the Keresan name of the Pecos Pueblo.

The river played a large role in the exploration of Texas by the Spanish. In the latter half of the 19th century, “West of the Pecos” was a reference to the rugged frontiers of the Wild West. See Full Article HERE.

Vinegarroon & the Pecos River Railroad Bridge

Original Pecos River Railroad Bridge.

Original Pecos River Railroad Bridge.

A few miles beyond the Pecos River Highway Bridge is a lookout which designates the old townsite of Vinegarroon, and where the Pecos River Railroad bridge can be seen in the distance.

The Pecos River was long a barrier to transportation, particularly across the deep gorge that once marked its joining with the Rio Grande. Construction of the first railroad bridge over the Pecos River took place in 1882 when the Galveston, Harrisburg, & San Antonio Railroad built its tracks through the area.

Work began in late 1891 and was completed within three months at a cost of more than $250,000. An engineering marvel, the bridge, known as the Pecos River Viaduct at the time, spanned 2,180 feet and towered 321 feet above the river.

Later, Vinegarroon was abandoned and most of its residents moved to nearby Langtry. Nothing remains of old Vinegarroon today.

There is no access to the bridge nor to the old town site of Vinegarroon, as the site is on private property. Continue the journey just a few more miles to the northwest where the old townsite of Shumla once stood. See Full Article HERE.

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