My first article on Moser and the Del Carmen company has been published in the Journal of Big Bend Studies, vol. 18, which is published by The Center for Big Bend Studies at Sul Ross University in Alpine, TX.
The article summarizes what's on this website, with pictures that I found in the archives of Big Bend National Park.
Last Friday, I submitted an article for the Journal of Big Bend Studies on the Ore Terminal. It's published by the Center for Big Bend Studies at Sul Ross University in Alpine, TX. It should be included in the next issue, which I believe is summer or fall '06. If you've read through this website, then you'll have a pretty good idea of what's in the article, although the article is a nice, succinct, academic history.
It's a brief history of the Ore Terminal and a first attempt to correctly outline the events in the life of Moser and the Del Carmen Company. I cover up to Moser's death in 1915 and then the Glenn Springs Raid in 1916. More still needs to be done, but it's a good start at clarifying the history. One of the things I learned at the Center for Big Bend Studies' annual conference last November is that a surprising amount of history is written by amateurs, that is, people who work in other fields and find an interesting project.
I recently spoke with Farmer Jennings' daughter to let her know about the article. She once again confirmed that Jennings' experience with the Del Carmen Company did not leave a big impression on him, mainly because he was a cattleman. Still, his memoirs are valuable and interesting. Other relatives of his have described him as a "real character".
I've found that as I'm able to delve more into the people of the time, they are real characters. For example, in speaking with Aimee's son from her second marriage, Aimee sounds like a fascinating lady. She was the first to ride on the ore buckets. She braved a brush with Pancho Villa. She was strong, humble, and well-liked. But, unfortunately, Aimee's son will not give me permission to publish much about her or her father, Louis Lyon, Moser's partner.
Even Aimee's son sounds like a real character. He told me that when he was in his early 20's, which I suppose is the mid 1940's, he was a cowboy in Chihuahua.
It's interesting, interviewing descendents is almost like ethnography. The simplistic view is that once I'm able to track them down, to connect them with history, then interviewing them should be easy, because in contrast, finding them was so hard. If only that were true. Because these are family stories, I sometimes run into the two headed monster of familiarity and intimacy problems.
What I mean, is on the one hand, these are family stories and they're familiar. Because they are familiar, the family members of the descendents don't feel that they are important, or hold importance beyond the family. So to them, they are not a big deal and aren't quite sure why someone outside of the family would be interested in them. However, in fact, many of the stories add color, if not hard facts, to real events; they are real history and of interest to other people as a result. Really. In my discussions with Aimee's son, he has given me new avenues to research and new ways of interpreting events. So the conversations are really valuable.
On the other hand, the stories are so familiar, they are intimate memories and as such, are held tight, not to be shared with others. So, I'm against, "I can't imagine other people would be interested in this," as well as, "I'm not going to share these because they are too private."
It's frustrating because the truth is fascinating. I was I could tell all of it. Just about everything in the article for the Journal of Big Bend Studies is backed up by documentation, so it's a good summation of how far I can get by interpreting the documents I've been able to find. However, I know there's more; I just wish I could talk about it.
I spoke at the Center for Big Bend Studies 12th annual conference today on Moser and the tramway. The talk was titled, "Finding Carlos: Uncovering the True Story of the Ore Terminal in Big Bend National Park." I think people liked it; I know I enjoyed it. I ran out of time, but at least I was able to tell Moserís story, from the time Louis Lyons goes down to Mexico and Meets Carlos Moser, to Moserís death. So I was able to paint the picture for the first chapter of the tramway.
What was so wonderful were all the people who came up to me afterwards to tell me their stories. Here are some snippets.
One women told me that the first towers on the US side were still standing 38 years ago (1967)!
Two gentlemen told me they hiked the trial up that big canyon that ends up winding up the wall you see when you look north from the last standing tower across a big canyon. To get to the trail head, they say look for a parking spot on the south side of the road after you pass Rio Grande Village. Park there and the trail is right across the street. They said it took them 45 minutes to hike to the beginning of the canyon, but they didn't go into the canyon and up the wall. From my measurements, they were anywhere from 1 to 2 miles from the trail head when they got to the canyon, depending on where they stopped. If you do this hike, get information from the park employees at Panther Junction. I havenít done the hike, so I canít give you anymore informationÖalthough I hope to do the hike some day. Using Google Earth, you can see a large scar on the southwest part of the canyon wall, near the last standing tower. My hypothesis is that this is where the cable engineer dragged the cables up the canyon wall. Hiking this trail could confirm or deny this hypothesis.
Another lady told me she fairly recently hiked to the ore terminal with her five year old grandson! They camped out at the ore terminal and then hiked from the ore terminal to Ernst Tinaja via the road leading away from the terminal going north. She said the hike from the ore terminal to Ernst Tinaja was fairly easy and that it took the morning.
Another gentleman told me he hiked the trail twice. When I asked him how long ago he hiked it the last time, he said, "Three years ago; and I got kind of winded. I was slow and the sun was going down. It was dark by the time I got to the wash [the final stretch of the hike before returning to the road]."
"Do you mind me asking how old you are?" I asked him.
He said, "78."
"And how old where you when first did the hike?" I asked him.
"Oh, I did the hike the first time six years ago!"
Hereís some great news. I have a picture on the site that's also in the February, 1911 article on the tramway showing a man and woman in an old time car in front of the cable terminal with a gentleman standing up. I've always wondered if that was Carlos and Aimee staring back at me. I finally met a gentleman I had been corresponding with over the Internet and he said, "That was my Uncle Alvie's car. He was a mechanic in Marathon and he told me the mining engineer had hired him to drive him and his wife to the cable terminal. That's the mining engineer and his wife in the picture."
So it is Carlos and Aimee...or most likely is. The man standing? Well, if you were to zoom in, it looks like he's wearing a badge on his left side, so I assume he was the customs inspector. I assume the person taking the picture was the driver, this gentleman's Uncle Alvie. My working hypothesis is that the woman in the car is Aimee Moser. Iím still note sure if Carlos Moser is the man in the car or the one taking the picture.
It was so great meeting people who were also interested in this. I've sometimes felt I was crazy. No...scratch that...I many times felt that I was crazy. But it was great to talk to people who shared my interest and great to hear the other presenters at the conference.
I'll be speaking at the Center for Big Bend Studies Annual Conference this November 11-12, 2005 at Sul Ross University in Alpine, TX. I'll be discussing the story I have uncovered about the Ore Terminal.
I'm looking forward to telling the story as I know it so far, including:
- JA Gregory's Master Thesis from ca 1907.
- Farmer Jenning's Memoirs
- Discussions with Aimee Moser's son.
- The Ore Terminal and the Glenn Springs Raid.
If I'm lucky, I'll get more leads on people to interview and maybe some advice on visiting Boquillas.
Welcome to Oreterminal.joelandkaren.com and my blog. Thanks for reading this blog and looking at my website.
I'd appreciate it if you'd do me a favor. Would you please answer a few questions? I ask because I'd like to know if I'm providing something of interest to the people who visit my site.
- Why do you come to Oreterminal.joelandkaren.com?
- Have you visited more than once? If so, about how often?
- What else would you like to see here?
- How did you hear about Oreterminal.joelandkaren.com?
- Have you hiked the Ore Terminal Trail? If so, when? If not, do you have plans to do so?
You can send the questions and answers to me in an email at:
I will not sell, rent, or otherwise user your email address. What I'll do is compile the answers in a word doc for my personal use and delete the emails so that I no longer have your email address.
I hope to make the website a better experience with the feedback I get from you.
Thanks very much for your time.
Updates have been delayed because of problems I've been having with pathnames. While I haven't solved them all, I'm close and so I'll have all the new goodies up within a week, hopefully.
So, I've put together this website on the Old Ore Terminal and Aerial Tramway at Big Bend National Park.
Because I've been fascinated with the ore terminal since my wife and I first hiked the trail around 1998. The land is so rugged, hot, and desolate. When we came to the big canyon (Boquillas Canyon, I think it's called) and the last standing tower, I was really, really impressed with the guts that it took to say, "Yeah, we can build this thing." The whole experience was enchanting. Hook 1 in me.
On that hike in 1998, we never made it to the terminal. Hook 2 in me.
These were special people who built this thing and worked at it. I wanted to find out more about them. With a few readings (or mis-readings) of some books, I got more hooked, wondering how Daniel Guggenheim was involved with this. It's a looong way from New York. (Turns out he wasn't, but I found the history of KSARCO and then ASARCO in Boquillas interesting. Guggenheim was the Chairman of the Board for ASARCO.)
There is little published on the history of terminal and tramway. The amount I knew compared to the amount I read was really small. Why? Hook 3 in me.
I put together this website as a way to enlist other's help in pulling together the story and as a guide post to hiking the trail.
Then, I decided to find the children and grand children of the people who built and worked at the terminal, in order to see if I could find family stories about the terminal. I decided to write a blog to document the pursuit of these stories.
That's the story so far.