Guadalupe Mountians National Park
Guadalupe Mountians National Park is touted as being the world's premier example of a marine fossil reef from the Permian Era. When I first read that I had absolutely no idea what I was reading about. In order to fully understand what the geologists are trying to tell us, you have to know one heck of a lot more about rocks than I do, but apparently, about 265 million years ago, this part of Texas was under a tropical sea. A number of different lime producing organisms lived in this sea and over the centuries they built up a reef that is believed to have been about 400 miles long. When the sea evaporated, the reef was buried in sediment and stayed covered for millions of years. Eventually, uplift in the earth raised this portion of the reef and exposed what are now known as the Guadalupe Mountains. If you are knowledgable enough, you can still find marine animal and plant fossils all though the mountains and the park has a fossil guide to help with your search.
People have lived in the Guadalupe Mountains for more than ten millennia, but the most famous people that have made their home in these mountains are the Mescalero Apache. The Spanish dubbed them Mescalero because they were famous for cultivating, harvesting and roasting agave (mescal in Spanish). They were also extremely capable warriors and incessantly raided Spanish and Mexican settlements though out Western Texas. As the Apache saw it, these settlements were encroaching on resources that they had used for centuries. Their attacks were in response to this situation. The Spanish and Mexican settlers saw it very differently. There was no love lost between the two groups. In the mid-nineteenth century U.S. Army cavalry units, including the famed Buffalo Soldiers, began to counter aggressive action by Mescalero Apache bands and relatively quickly forced them to move out of the mountains to federal reservations. A few hardy ranchers then moved into the mountains and grazed sheep, goats and limited numbers of cattle throughout the area. In 1972 Guadalupe Mountains National Park was formally established.