Sunday, February 1, 2015

The Pecos River and Medal of Honor Recipients

Location: Seminole Canyon State Park; near Del Rio, Texas

(click pictures to enlarge)

The morning was foggy but I hit the road to see what the Pecos River looked like. I thought there might be some picture possibilities as the fog lifted and let the sun shine down. U S 90 crosses the river about 3 miles north of here. There is information posted near the bridge site that says the bridge is 273 feet above the water level and is the highest highway bridge in Texas. I think I may question that claim. I can think of a couple bridges in East Texas that might give that 273 feet a run for its money. One is the High Island bridge over the Intercoastal Waterway and the other would be the Rainbow Bridge between Bridge City and Port Arthur. Maybe the data is out of date or maybe the western Texans figured the eastern Texans wouldn't make it over this far or if they did, they may not be able to read. :)

The Pecos River was a pretty blueish color and the canyon that it has cut is about 300 feet deep. It's been cutting it for a while. Parts of the canyon wall reminded me of the Painted Rock cliffs on Lake Superior out of Munising, Michigan. The source of the Pecos River is in northern New Mexico near Santa Fe on the eastern side of the Sangre de Cristo mountains. It empties into the Rio Grande about a mile downstream of the bridge in the pictures. There are a couple good vantage points where you can see the river and the opposite canyon walls. I was alone most of the time I was there, which is always a good thing, unless you need help. I will probably go back on a clear day to see how it compares to the foggy morning. A bright blue sky should look good with the blueish water. 

There was an skirmish between the U.S. Army and the Comanche Indians near here in 1875. That skirmish resulted in three men being awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor. The three men were Black Seminole Indians serving in the U.S. Army as scouts. When I visited the Indian Museum in Cherokee, North Carolina I learned about the Indian Removal Act of 1830. It forced the removal of the 5 "civilized tribes" from their lands in the southeastern states, resulting in what is known as the Trail of Tears. The 5 tribes were the Cherokee, Choctaw, Chickasaw, Creek and Seminoles. All of the tribes had black slaves but the Seminoles treated theirs differently. The Seminole slaves were treated as almost as equals to their owners to the point of being able to own property and weapons. The Seminole slaves dressed like their owners in the traditional Seminole clothing. This treatment of their slaves got the Seminoles in trouble after the relocation to northern Texas and Oklahoma because the slaves from the other tribes began to cause trouble by wanting the same conditions as the Seminole slaves. The other 4 tribes forced the Seminoles to move farther south so their slaves would be out-of-sight/out-of-mind. That is how the Seminoles who started in Florida ended up in this part of Texas. The descendants of the Seminole slaves became know as Black Seminole Indians and it was three of these that received the Medal of Honor in the action of 1875. 
U.S. 90 over the Pecos River

Looking downstream, the sun is starting to shine through

Looking upstream

Trucking crossing the questionable record height bridge with fog hanging overhead

The scenic overlook

This is the part that reminded me of the Painted Rock cliffs on Lake Superior

When the handrail stopped, I stopped. 

I was surprised to see man-made concrete support columns holding up a fractured rock. As an engineer, I can appreciate the calculations and work involved in that placement. However, in all practicality, they should have just blasted the fractured part off and repair the damage to the road/parking area below. That way the problem would be solved permanently. 

A flock of buzzards started circling while I was looking at the river. I quickly checked my pulse and knew it wasn't me they were after.  

Nothing special here, I just liked the way it turned out

Freedom patiently waiting for me in the deserted parking lot. 

It's big and rough looking country around here.

Ya'll take care of each other. I'll Cya down the road. 


  1. I get out in that part of the world & realize (every now & then) that not too far back the natives would kill you for being a stranger. Not that far back either, my grandfathers time.
    Like you said rough looking country.

  2. Hello Rob, Thanks for the comment. I agree, sometimes we feel like things have always been the way they are now.

  3. Looks like a cool place. Thanks for the history lesson on the Black Seminole. i had heard the term, but did not know the history.