The former mining town in Texas’ remote and hauntingly beautiful Big Bend region was established around the turn of the twentieth century. In its early decades, 40% of the nation’s quicksilver — or mercury — came from Terlingua. But the ore petered out around the time of World War II, and Terlingua became a ghost town, its adobe and stone buildings beginning their inevitable decline into the desert.
By the late 60s and early 70s, tourists (mainly wandering hippies, I suspect) rediscovered Terlingua, and an annual chili cook-off was established.
Today Terlingua is no less remote, and its residents are a fiercely independent bunch. You’ll find your fair share of characters and crazies here, but it’s the good kind of crazy, and I guarantee you’ll develop an instant affinity for the place and its people.
Much of Terlingua’s “wild west” vibe remains — you get the feeling that everyone here is either running away from — or looking for — something. But I guarantee it’s a place you’ll never forget.
This video is the first of a series I’m doing for Harley-Davidson to accompany my print articles in HOG magazine. It will be accessible on the HOG member website and iPad edition. If you’re not a HOG member, you can see it here.