Sunday, 13 August 2017

Showers across Texas

The overnight storm had chased away the heat and left behind a cloudy showery day for our trip across Texas highway 90.

Not far from Del Rio we reached the Pecos River.   At one time crossing the deep river gorge was very difficult, in 1882 the first railroad bridge was built as part of the Southern Pacific Railroad.   Access to the bridge was by an indirect route through two tunnels going deep into the canyon.

A new bridge was completed in 1891, this bridge cut directly across the gorge on a high viaduct and was supported by 24 towers.   At the time it was the highest bridge in the USA and the third highest bridge in the world.  Passenger trains crossing the gorge slowed down to 6 miles an hour and actually stopped on the bridge so that travellers could enjoy the view.

Not far away a temporary camp named Vinegarroon (a type of scorpion) was home for thousands of, mostly Chinese, labourers working on the railroad.

During WWII the bridge became essential to the transportation of war materials and due to heavier trains and war demands a new bridge was constructed in 1944.   The bridge is still in use although the gorge isn’t as deep as it once was as the river rose when Amistad reservoir was constructed.

We stopped at the viewpoint on highway 90, it was very cold and blustery, as we looked down into the gorge we could see goats, well I think they were goats, climbing on the rocks on one side of the river.

The remains of two bridges across the deep gorge at Eagles Nest Creek.
Further along we passed Terrell County Airfield.   Built in 1919 west of Sanderson, the airfield was home to the 90th Aero Squadron of biplanes used for border patrol.   The squadron relocated, I know not where, and the aerodrome became an active field until 1941.   In WWII American Airlines and the government built a new civilian intermediate and emergency military landing field construction was completed in 1943.   Civil Air Patrol and Military Training exercises were also carried out here.

The clouds didn’t go away and by this time we were in dire need of coffee, luckily for us in Marathon we found a great coffee shop, the V6, which is part of the historic Gage Hotel.

Designed by Henry Trost, Alfred Gage opened the Gage Hotel in April 1927, sadly he died a year after the hotel opened.   According to legend when Zane Gray stayed there he wrote his most famous wild west novel.   Eventually the hotel declined but in 1978 it was bought by J P Bryan, a descendent of Stephen F Austin, the founding ‘Father of Texas’ and has since been renovated.

After we left Marathon we ran into more showers and heavy rain so despite seeing lots of historical markers we didn’t stop anywhere else.   It’s a shame the weather wasn’t good as on a warm sunny day it would’ve been a lovely drive.   Maybe one day we’ll get to do it again, who knows. 

Have fun, we are!

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