Jan 26, 2012
Terlingua encompasses thousands of acres of sparsely settled desert country along the Rio Grande in far west Texas, between Big Bend National Park and Big Bend State Park. There's cinnabar ore in those mountains, enough to support profitable mercury mines a hundred years ago, but nowadays the only mercury miners left are the ones in the Terlingua cemetery.
Many of today's Terlinguans live more or less off the grid; land is inexpensive, but bringing in electricity costs something like $10,000 per pole. The landowners are only lightly supervised by local government, but like big-city condo owners they are regulated by an owners' association, which employs a full-time staff to maintain community wells and roads and to operate an income-generating campground and lodge.
Vanessa Boyd, director of the landowners' organization, which is known as Terlingua Ranch, is a musician as well as a land manager. She just released a new album last week, which incorporates songs she composed in preparation for a 2010 concert tour to Nepal.