“A Roman coin was once found with the picture of an ox on it; the ox was facing two things – an altar and a plough; and the inscription read: ‘Ready for either.’”
In the Lower Big Bend:
Rising out of the surrounding desert like an altar of the ancients to some long forgotten pagan god, the weatherworn tower of an overhead tramway from over a century ago still stands.
The platform is the last of its kind. Dozens upon dozens of its peers lie in collapsed heaps along a six and one half mile path; victims of age, the elements, the stress of heavy steel cables draped across their supports, and the desert itself.
But here, on a rocky point with near-sheer cliff walls on three sides, this final survivor remains a defiant testament to man’s determination and ingenuity in extracting resources from a harsh, recalcitrant land.
No road ever led here. What you see was the product of human genius, coupled with the back-breaking efforts of man and mule alike. The era in which this was built gives one’s imagination pause for thought. But when you actually cover this craggy, canyon filled, desolate country on foot, your imagination goes from simple thought to awed wonder.
I have written at length about this overhead ore tramway in two of my volumes, ‘Out There’ and ‘Yonderings.’ Furthermore, the tramway will serve as a backdrop in two of my future historical novels. But no amount of written words or descriptors, or photographs, can adequately tell the story of what occurred here.
You have to see it with your own eyes; feel the summer heat and sweat soaking your body, and make your own way across uneven ground strewn with every sort of rock and cactus imaginable, to fully understand.
Nothing comes easy in the lower Big Bend, and building this tramway had to have been one of the harder things ever done.
God bless to all,
Ben H. English
Author of ‘Yonderings’ (TCU Press)
‘Destiny’s Way’ (Creative Texts Publishers)
‘Out There: Essays on the Lower Big Bend’ (Creative Texts Publishers)
‘The Uvalde Raider’ (Creative Texts Publishers)
Facebook: Ben H. English
‘Graying but still game’