The history of Terlingua Ranch is as colorful as a sunrise over 9 Point Mesa.

Terlingua Ranch History
Carroll Shelby & Friends in front of the Terlingua Ranch House – 1965

In his book Quicksilver author Kenneth Baxter Ragsdale describes the history of Terlingua Texas as a colorful one “shrouded in legend and fabrication.” As for Terlingua Ranch, here are some notable points of reference:

  • “[In the early 1960s] racing car legend Carroll Shelby and an attorney from Dallas, Dave Witts, found themselves owning a small ghost town called Terlingua in Southwest Texas. The population stood at seven – not including nine goats and two Mexican burros. Nestled on the Mexican border between the Rio Grand River and Big Bend National Park, the pair hoped to parcel off the surrounding 200,000 acres…”  More…

  • “Witts and Shelby hatched a land development scheme… and called it the Terlingua Ranch Land and Cattle Company. Sales were slow and low, so along with Dallas Morning News columnist Frank X. Tolbert, also known as the Godfather of Chili, they started the World’s Chili Cook-off in 1967. It was a publicity and marketing plan; partly as a promotion for Mr. Tolbert’s book,  A Bowl of Red, and partly to help Shelby and Witts sell Terlingua Ranch property. The chosen location for the cook-off was, of course, Terlingua.” More…
  • “[In the late 1960s] developer Great Western Corporation started to purchase [sections of Terlingua Ranch]. Eventually Great Western Corporation acquired about 190,000 acres and changed their name to Terramar. Smaller individual tracts where platted to be sold to individual owners. Roads had to be created in order to access the individual tracts so that the tracts could be sold. By the early 1970s, Great Western realized that the roads they were creating would need to be maintained through the generations and at that point the Terlingua Ranch Maintenance Association (“TRMA”) was founded and filed for record in October of 1971.”  More…
  • “In November of 1976, Terramar incorporated the Property Owners Association of Terlingua Ranch, Inc. (“POATRI“), to which it assigned all of its Terlingua Ranch easements and rights in November of 2006.”  More…

  • “Terlingua Ranch drew newcomers to Big Bend in unprecedented numbers… On Terlingua Ranch today, the trail of buyers and sellers is visible in the variety of shacks and shanties, modified trailer houses, so-called middle-class himes, diminutive mansions, and a few energy-alternative accommodations, each built according to the dreams of the respective land owners. Undoubtedly, Terlingua Ranch is responsible for the modern growth of south Brewster County.”  More…