Historic Terlingua Cemetery

Big Bend Photo Project

Terlingua Texas is a ghost town that has been repopulated in recent years by a variety of folks who drifted in from other places. They are fiercely self-reliant as is demanded by the harsh climate of the borderland. Independence aside, the residents have built a community that looks after itself with a sense of open minded tolerance. That is with a strong streak of frontier ethic.

The town that existed at the turn of the nineteenth century was very different place. It was a company mining town. People there were engaged in dirty and dangerous manual labor. It was a place where you followed the rules and got on with the job of digging, transporting and refining red cinnabar ore into mercury. Every part of the process was dangerous; some such as handling the mercury were deadly. Even so, it was honest work which was a rare commodity in the wild Texas/Mexico borderland.

The historic Terlingua cemetery reflects an earlier era of cultural values than those common today. Walking through the cemetery you see the graves of miners and family members. Most are hand made by relatives or friends of those laid to rest. They are evidence of traditions stretching back into the distant past.

The old cemetery is in the middle of present day Terlingua. It is surrounded in close proximity by the current community. Those living there now maintain the cemetery and keep it safe. The character of the town has changed but a sense of continuity exists that extends to the old graves. Just as in the past, those who rest are still part of the community.