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CANDELARIA, TEXAS

 

 

END OF THE ROAD

         

 

 

 

HAVE YOU EVER BEEN TO CANDELARIA, TEXAS?  WELL I HAVE.  LET ME TELL YOU ABOUT IT.

 

BACK IN 1978 JOHNNIE WORKED FOR DAN DIPERT TOUR AGENCY HERE IN ARLINGTON, TEXAS.  SHE WAS A TOUR ESCORT.  THAT MEANT SHE CRAWLED ON A BUS WITH 40 OR SO PEOPLE AND WENT WHERE EVER.  SOME TIMES SHE WOULD BE GONE FOR A WEEK AND SOMETIMES SHE WOULD BE GONE FOR TWO WEEKS.  ONE OF HER TOURS EVEN KEPT HER AWAY FOR THREE WEEKS.

 

WELL WHEN SHE WOULD BE GONE ON ONE OF THESE TOURS, I WOULD CLIMB IN MY PICKUP WITH THE CAMPER ON IT AND I WOULD TAKE A TOUR OF MY OWN.  I MOSTLY STAYED IN TEXAS BUT THAT COVERS A LOT OF GROUND.  IT IS 900 MILES FROM TEXARKANA ON THE EASTERN SIDE OF THE STATE TO EL PASO ON THE WESTERN SIDE.  IT IS 1000 MILES FROM THE TOP OF THE PANHANDLE TO BROWNSVILLE ON THE SOUTH END OF THE STATE AT THE MEXICAN BORDER.

 

JOHNNIE WAS GONE FOR TWO WEEKS ONE TIME SO I HAD TWO WEEKS TO WONDER AROUND THE STATE.  I DECIDED I WOULD GO TO THE "BIG BEND NATIONAL PARK" OUT IN WEST TEXAS.  I LEFT EARLY ONE MORNING AND DROVE DOWN THROUGH SAN ANTONIO (THAT'S WHERE THE ALAMO IS) AND ON TO UVALDE.  (THAT'S WHERE CACTUS JACK, AKA, JOHN NANCE GARNER LIVED.  GARNER WAS THE 32nd VICE PRESIDENT OF THE U. S. A.)

 

FROM UVALDE I WENT WEST ON HIGHWAY 90 THROUGH BRACKETTVILLE. (THAT'S WHERE JOHN WAYNE MADE THE MOVIE "ALAMO")

 

THEN TO DEL RIO ON THE REO GRANDE RIVER ACROSS FORM CIUDAD ACUNA, MEXICO.   FROM THERE I WENT WEST ON HIGHWAY 90 THROUGH LANGTRY (THAT'S WHERE JUDGE ROY BEAN WAS KNOWN AS LAW WEST OF THE PECOS RIVER IN 1884) AND ON TO MARATHON.  THIS TOOK ME THREE DAYS.

 

FROM MARATHON I TOOK HIGHWAY 395 INTO "BIG BEND NATIONAL PARK."  BIG BIND NATIONAL PARK IS  ( LIKE EVERYTHING ELSE IN TEXAS ) A BIG PARK.  I SPENT TWO DAYS WONDERING AROUND IN THE PARK.  THEN I LEFT OUT THE WEST SIDE ON OLD HIGHWAY 170.

 

HIGHWAY 170 IS CALLED THE RIVER ROAD.   BUT THATíS A WHOLE NOTHER STORY FOR A DIFFERENT TIME.

 

HIGHWAY 170 RUNS ALONG THE SIDE OF THE RIO GRANGE RIVER ALL THE WAY TO PRESIDIO.  PRESIDIO IS A PORT OF ENTR…E FROM MEXICO.  BUT HIGHWAY 170 DOESN'T STOP THERE.  IT CONTINUES WEST ALONG THE RIVER TO RUIDOSA.  GRANTED IN 1978 WHEN I TRAVELED IT, IT WAS ONLY A GRAVEL ROAD FROM PRESIDIO TO RUIDOSA, IT WAS STILL DESIGNATED HIGHWAY 170.

 

THE FIRST RECORDED SETTLEMENT AT THE SITE OF RUIDOSA WAS A PENAL COLONY CALLED VADO PIEDRA.  THE MEXICAN GOVERNMENT ESTABLISHED IT ABOUT 1824.  A GROUP OF CONVICTS, CALLED THE CONDEMNED REGIMENT, WAS SENT TO THE AREA TO GUARD CATTLE AND HORSES IN NORTHERN CHIHUAHUA AGAINST RAIDS BY INDIANS.  THE COMANCHES MASSACRED THE REGIMENT AND THE PENAL COLONY WAS ABANDONED.

 

A SMALL FARMING COMMUNITY BEGAN AT RUIDOSA ABOUT 1872 WHEN WILLIAM RUSSELL CONSTRUCTED IRRIGATION DITCHES TO BRING WATER TO HIS LARGE FARM.  HE ALSO BUILT A TOLL MILL THAT PROVIDED FLOUR TO THE SURROUNDING COMMUNITIES FOR THE NEXT 30 YEARS.

 

WHEN I LEFT PRESIDIO I CONTINUED ON WEST ON THIS  GRAVEL ROAD.  36 MILES LATER I CAME TO RUIDOSA.  BUT BY 1978 ALL THERE WAS THERE, WAS A SMALL CATHOLIC CHURCH, A FEW ADOBE HOMES AND ONE SMALL STORE.  THE STORE WAS ABOUT 12 FEET BY 14 FEET AND JUST HAD A FEW STAPLES.  IT WAS IN AN OLD RUN DOWN WOODEN BUILDING.  I STOPPED AT THE STORE AND GOT ME A 7 UP AND A MILKY WAY BAR.  I TRIED TO TALK TO THE LADY IN THE STORE BUT SHE DIDN'T SPEAK ENGLISH AND I DIDN'T SPEAK SPANISH.

 

I WENT OUT ON THE FRONT PORCH OF THE STORE AND SAT DOWN ON A WOODEN BENCH TO DRINK MY 7 UP AND EAT MY MILKY WAY BAR.  AS I WAS SITTING THERE AN ELDERLY MEXICAN MAN WALKED UP AND WENT INTO THE STORE.  WHEN HE CAME BACK OUT HE HAD AN ENVELOPE IN HIS HAND.  HE SAT DOWN NEXT TO ME ON THE BENCH AND OPENED HIS ENVELOPE.  IT WAS A SOCIAL SECURITY CHECK.

 

I SAID GOOD MORNING TO HIM AND HE SAID "HOLA."  HUH HO, HERE WE GO AGAIN.  I TRIED TO TALK TO HIM BUT HAD THE SAME PROBLEM AS I HAD WITH THE LADY. 

 

IN MY JUNIOR YEAR OF HIGH SCHOOL WE WERE REQUIRED TO TAKE A SEMESTER OF A FOREIGN LANGUADE.  WE HAD THE CHOICE OF SPANISH, FRENCH OR LATIN.  FOR SOME CRAZY REASON I TOOK LATIN.  I SHOULD HAVE TAKEN SPANISH.  BUT THEN I DON'T KNOW IF IT WOULD HAVE HELPED ME NOW.  THAT WAS ALMOST 30 YEARS AGO.  BESIDES THAT I MADE AN "F" IN LATIN AND WOULD HAVE PROBABLY MADE THE SAME IN SPANISH.

 

I GOT BACK IN MY PICKUP AND STARTED ON DOWN THE ROAD, WHICH BY THIS TIME HAD BECOME A DIRT ROAD.  AFTER ANOTHER 12 MILES OF SANDY, ROUGH, UNMAINTAINED ROAD I CAME TO THE LITTLE VILLAGE OF CANDELARIA.

 

CANDELARIA ALSO HAD A SMALL CATHOLIC CHURCH AND A FEW ADOBE HOUSES.  BUT I COULDN'T SEE ANY KIND OF STORE.  IN FACT I COULDN'T SEE ANY PEOPLE.  IT WAS LIKE CANDELARIA WAS A GHOST TOWN.  AND GUESS WHAT.  THE ROAD ENDED THERE.  SO I CAN SAY I'VE BEEN TO THE END OF THE ROAD.  HIGHWAY 170, THAT IS.  IT ALSO LOOKED LIKE IT WAS AT THE END OF THE WORLD.

 

 

  BY LOREN MOORE

COPYRIGHT 2003

 

LOREN

 GOTTA GO - SEE YA

MUSIC:     RED RIVER VALLEY

BY:    GIT'PICKIN HARRY

 
 

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