This afternoon I left Big Bend National Park at Maverick Junction and continued on TX 118 to Study Butte, which is five miles east of Terlingua in southwestern Brewster County (the largest county in Texas). Like Terlingua, Study Butte owes its existence to the mercury mining industry established in the area around 1900. It was named for Will Study (pronounced "Stoody"), the manager of the Big Bend or Study Butte mercury mine.
In 1940 the Rainbow Mercury Mine was the chief employer and the town had a school, a general store and scattered miners' dwellings. It had a brief economic resurgence during World War II, but by the late 1940s the mine had closed. The mine reopened in 1970 but the Shamrock Corporation discontinued local operations in 1972. In 2000 the population was 267.
Historic Terlingua lies between Big Bend National Park and Big Bend Ranch State Park. In the mid-1880s the discovery of cinnabar, from which mercury is extracted, brought miners to the area, creating a city of 2,000 people. The only remnants of the mining days are a ghost town of the Chisos Mining Company, owned by Howard Perry, and several nearby capped and abandoned mines.
After my visit to Study Butte and Terlingua, I drove up to Alpine to meet some RVing friends, Bert Cunningham of Kerrville and Hilda Cerday of Wichita, Kansas. Hilda had to take her tow truck to the dealer for repairs. Bert and I followed her in his motorhome so she would have a way back to the RV park. He needed to refuel his motorhome anyway. We had a mini potluck dinner in Bert’s motorhome. Later Bert received a phone call telling him that he had been summoned for jury duty in Kerrville.