[Butterfield Trail] Pine Springs Station, Carlsbad Caverns Nat’l Park, and Hunting (Days 12-14)[4K]

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The campground was nestled in Guadalupe Mountains National Park, home to world's most extensive Permian fossil reef, the four highest peaks in Texas, and The Pine Springs Station; one of the best station ruins I encountered along my journey along the Butterfield Overland Mail Stagecoach Route across the American Southwest The Pinery station is located in close proximity to the Park visitor center, and less than four hundred yards from the nearby interstate. In fact, this is the only station still standing that is located on a major national highway. The pines in these mountains gave this station it’s name, as well as provided for the construction of a noteworthy pine corral which no longer stood, but made this a memorable stop along the route. The station was also one of several build by our hero from Dragoon Springs, Silas St. John. The Butterfield was a unifying symbol of America defeating the odds and accomplishing what was thought to be impossible and connecting St. Louis to San Francisco. These stations represent the blueprints of who we are, and the formation of the West. As my time along the Butterfield began to come to an end, I meditated on Albert D. Richardson’s journey in 1859. Passenger, Newspaper correspondent, and author of Butterfield Memoir ‘Beyond the Mississippi, Richardson recounts: I have sought to picture a fleeting phase of our national life; not omitting its grotesque, lawless features; not concealing my admiration for the adventurous pioneers who have founded great states from the Mississippi to the Pacific, and made a new geography for the American Union … we seem on the destiny of a destiny higher and better than any nation has yet fulfilled. And the great West is to rule us. Marveling at the whirlybird above the Guadalupe peak, I pondered that destiny, our identity as Americans, and our rich cultural history that we must seek to preserve, for posterity. In 1859, this route was changed to the lower San Antonio-El Paso route from the Horsehead crossing on the Pecos. Changing these stations meant abandon of these well-constructed stations on the old route, and more capital expenditures to replace them, along on the new route; these costs, coupled with congress failing to pass the postal service appropriation bill, resulted in Butterfield’s largest shareholder and banker, Wells Fargo Co. to relieve him of his managerial authority, and ultimately acquire the company. To this day, the bank continues to proudly advertise John Butterfield’s stagecoach lines as the heart and soul of its identity, and his story lives on, here, in the heart of America’s Southwestern deserts, and across these interstate arteries of freedom and commerce. I headed toward a detour seven hundred and fifty feet below the surface. A long-time favorite of America, Carlsbad Caverns beckoned to me to come down, escape the heat, and immerse myself in a world so vastly far away from the desert lands above. I encountered a kindred spirit in the parking lot, and wondered where they’d taken their bikes to. In 1932 the park added elevators, and the shafts they bored are still operational today. One of my favorite things about this park is that once you reach the elevator, it is truly like a portal, preserved in time, in a subterranean surreal showcase of stalagtites and stalagmites. (4:20) Should you be inclined to view more, I have published a separate installment including all of my footage in the caverns. [LINK COMING] I was fortunate to visit on a very low-traffic day, and so I effectively had the place to myself, it was serene. Carslbad is also known for its bats, which create a spectacle to behold during the summer months. In an increasingly digital and inflating world, I stopped and watched the price physically lower before topping off for my final push of the drive. The Butterfield effectively laid the blueprint for our modern transportation infrastructure, its legacy will endure and facilitate the growth of the next generation of innovations as we enter a new age in our nation’s journey, find new methods such as renewables, as well as rediscovering and preserving the old. (8:45) It was fitting that this was where my journey would have its celebratory end, on an old homestead in vicinity of Army Engineer, General John Pope’s survey route from 1854, a major contributing source to the Butterfield. We were greeted by a lone cow as we surveyed the fenceline. I joined my best friend, Colin and his family to find the elusive Texas Gobbler. We all spent the evening catching up, and were back out to hunt at first light.. the decoys were the only birds we’d take home. But perhaps that’s not all hunting is about, anyways. Next thing I knew I was home in Dallas. I hope you have enjoyed the ride, and I encourage you to go out and explore the natural world and history that exists all around you, wherever you are in the world. 🔊: Squire Tuck & Gustav Holst

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Tags: overlanding

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