Links to Research Sources
Here are some resources that may have historical
information on the Old Ore Terminal and aerial tramway. I haven’t
used all of them.
Part of Sul Ross University in Alpine,
TX. While I haven’t
contacted them, I imagine they’ll have the most information
available of any resource because they’re close to the
Big Bend Natural
Many of the booklets and books sold at Big Bend National Park are
produced by this organization, in conjunction with Big Bend National
Has a collection of the Alpine Avalanche on microfilm. That’s
the only newspaper I know of that was published in the big bend
area in the early 1900’s.
A joint project of The General Libraries at the University of Texas
at Austin and the Texas State Historical Association. Good historical
Some historical information on KSARCO, which some books say built
the first, short, tramway across the Rio Grande.
Library at the state capitol.
Seeing as there was a customs officer assigned to the terminal,
some records may still exist which would shed light on who paid
the customs tax.
Smithers was a photographer who lived in the big bend area and
began taking pictures around 1916. Many of the pictures of the
time period in history books are from his collection. The collection
is housed in the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center at UT
Austin. The database is in a Macintosh Filemaker Pro database,
so you have to go to the library to search it.
Avalanch Newspaper for Alpine, TX. Covers
large portions of Brewster County and Big Bend as well,
Mines and Minerals, a mining journal that seemed
to be preferred by Moser. Engineering & Mining Journal would have
been it's main competitor, I think. Rolled into Colliery Engineer in
1913, which was then rolled into Coal Age around 1916. Coal Age is
Del Carmen Zinc Mine,
February 1911, Pg. 437.
A good overview of the recently built tramway, for engineers.
It looks like it was either commissioned by Leschen, the
tramway manufacturer, or they worked closely with Leschen
because it looks like a PR piece, to my eyes. Many of the
pictures are the ones I received from the National Park
Service. They said they were from 1919. Actually, they're
from at least 1911. Were they publicity photos shot by
Leschen, or were they shot by the Del Carmen Company?
If you only read one thing about the tramway, read this.
It's the single best article on the tramway. Funny how
it was never mentioned by any other author...
When I brought the volume home to read the article, I
told my wife, "This is going to open a new door to
finding out the story." When I read it to her, it
was like exploring a new room in a house the light filled
the darkness and I could finally see this one room. But,
I still wanted to find the owner. It gave me a few new
leads and gave me inspiration for continuing my quest for
finding Carlos Moser.
Boquillas Zinc Deposits, by Carlos
Moser, March 1911, Pg. 479
Moser was the president of the Del Carmen Company and
the driving force behind the mine and the tramway. A fabulous
first person account of why he's there. This is currently
my only real connection to Moser. I happened upon it by
luck. While I had pored through the Engineering Index for
1909 to 1919 in the hopes of finding an article (which
is where I found the Del Carmen Zinc Mine article), I
knew I could still be missing some things. So, I decided
to flip through each volume. When I turned the page and
found this article, I was surprised and excited, but was
mainly dumbfounded by good luck.
An article written by the man I'm trying to find. What
could better? How about finding a descendent or two...
of La Mina Boquillas del Carmen of Coahuila, Mexico: Thesis
for the Degree of Engineer of Mines by J. A.
Gregory June, 1908. Missouri School of Mines, M&M Historical
Probably the single best source for understanding the business
of running the Puerto Rico mine I've found to date. (Update: Del
Carmen Zinc Mine and Boquillas
Zinc Deposits are
better. For a long time, though, this was the only
first person account I had.) Gregory wrote his master's degree
thesis at the time the the tramway was being constructed.
He makes detailed financial estimates on the value of the
ore in the mine; the cost for transportation from mine to
Marathon, TX; as well as the net profit the mine can be expected
He's the only
source I've found that discusses a "cutout" of the tramway
used to load water for use in the mine and the ore terminal.
He also mentions a 1900 foot "gravity cable" to transport
ore from the mine entrance to valley below, but it's not
clear if this was installed or he was making a recommendation.
He does recommend a narrow guage rail line be installed from
this point to the tramway, but I don't know if his recommendation
was taken. Barring the narrow guage rail line, the ore was
hauled from the mine to the tramway by way of wagons. Why
wasn't the tramway built to the entrance of the Puerto Rico
He also discuss the total cost of ownership advantage of
using a gasoline engine to drive the tramway as opposed to
a steam engine. The engine was at the Ore Terminal.
Because of the presence of what looked like coal at the Ore
Terminal, I believe the builders decided upon a steam engine.
Another interesting factoid: Gregory discusses using steam
traction engines to haul the ore from Ore Terminal to Marathon.
These are essentially tractors with a steam
engine. This was also mentioned in other sources; however,
it looks like the attempt was a failure and Mexican freighters
were used, as was the custom.
Most Singular Country: A History of Occupation in the
Big Bend by Arthur R. Gomez. ©1990,
Charles Redd Center for Western Studies, Brigham Young
A good, comprehensive history of the area written by a National
Park Service historian. Gomez was kind enough to correspond
with me via email and give me a pointer or two.
The Big Bend: A
History of the Last Texas Frontier. by Ronnie
C. Tyler. ©1975 by Nation Park Service, Department
of the Interior
A good, comprehensive history of the area. Ronnie Tyler
is currently the Director of the Texas State Historical Association.
He was formerly the curator for the Amon
Carter Museum in
Ft. Worth. Amon Carter was instrumental in getting Big Bend
designated as a national park. Tyler was kind enough to respond
to an email of mine.
Bend Country: A History of Big Bend National Park by
Ross A. Maxwell. ©1985 Big Bend Natural History
Association, Big Bend National Park, TX 79834.
A good, comprehensive history of the area
written by the first Superintendent of the Park. I've found
this to be particularly readable.
Marathon Basin: A History of Marathon, Texas, It's People
and Events by AnneJoe P. Wedin. Copyright© 1989
by the author. Nortex Press.
While a comprehensive history of Marathon, contains only
tidbits of new information about the Ore Terminal. The most
interesting is the discussion of the traction engines titled "Kansas
City Mining Company's Adventure". The traction engines
were intended to haul the ore from the Ore Terminal to Marathon.
They were all built in Marathon and according to the oral
history, were all failures.
However, I think the oral histories may have stopped short.
According to the article Del Carmen Zinc Mine, published
in March 1911, traction engines were used. In fact, there's
a picture of one.
Riding the Highwire: Aerial
Tramways in the American West by Robert A.
Trennert. ©2001, University Press of Colorado.
Good coverage of the major tramway suppliers in the late
1800's and early 1900's along with a nice mechanical explanation
of how tramways work. However, none of the examples come
from Texas, they all concentrate on Colorado, California,
Arizona, New Mexico, and Alaska.
of Texas Online , Texas State Historical Association
The big enchilada when it comes to a comprehensive history
of Texas. Fairly detailed and very convenient. But like other
sources, not too detailed when it comes to the terminal and
tramway. It seems that every librarian and archivist I ran
into asked me if I had checked the Hand Book. It was a ritual.
How Come It's Called That:
Place Names in the Big Bend Country by Virginia
Madison and Hallie Stillwell. Copyright 1958 by the Authors.
University of New Mexico Press.
Hallie's the quintessential Texas cowgirl, now deceased.
An interesting oral history of the Marathon and Big Bend
area with some minor discussion of the KSARCO tramway, although
"real" historians gripe about its inaccuracies.