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Guadalupe Mountains
 

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The Frijoles Ranch
At the entrance to the ranch
At the entrance to the ranch
Limited water and timber, poor transportation routes, and conflicts restricted early settlement in the trans-Pecos area with Apaches. When the Texas and Pacific Railroad established a transcontinental line in the 1880s, towns such as Van Horn were established as refueling and watering stations.

Railroad access made settlement more feasible; still, the scarcity of resources in the desert limited the number of settlers and presented a constant challenge to those few who came.

Newcomers gravitated to widely dispersed water sources. The six springs within a three-mile radius of the Frijole Ranch made it a magnet for early travelers and settlers.

The Rader Brothers

The Rader brothers built the first substantial house at the Frijole Spring around 1876. These two bachelors operated a small cattle ranch out of their sturdy rock home. The Rader brothers never filed a deed on the land, and soon moved on.

The Smith Years
Smith family circa 1914
Smith family circa 1914

To the market

To the market
In 1906, John Thomas Smith filed on the Frijole site as vacant land, calling it the Spring Hill Ranch. Smith had moved from Wisconsin to Texas, where he married Nella May Carr in 1889. Eventually, they moved to Van Horn, Texas, and from there acquired the Frijole Ranch.

During that time, the Smith family produced a wide variety of crops in their fifteen-acre orchard and garden, including apples, peaches, apricots, plums, pears, figs, pecans, blackberries, strawberries, and corn. Periodically, the Smiths would load tip their wagons in the evening, covering the fresh produce with wet paper and linen, and travel for two days to Van Horn, sixty five miles south, to sell their produce.

The Ranch served as a gathering place for community activities. Up to eight children from the Smith family and nearby ranches attended classes in the red schoolhouse. The Smiths provided room, board, and a horse, in addition to a $30 per month salary for the teacher.

The Frijole Post Office was established at the Ranch in 1916. Initially, mail was brought south from Carlsbad three times per week. Nefla May Smith served as the postmaster until 1941, when the post office moved to the Glovers' store at Pine Springs.

Guadalupe Mountains Ranch

The Highway 62/180 alignment was established in the late 1920s and paved in the late 1930s. As transportation through the area improved, the Smith family took in travelers who came to hunt. J.C. Oesse Coleman) Hunter was a frequent guest Hunter flrst moved to Van Horn, Texas in 1911, to serve as Superintendent of Schools. He began buying land in the Guadalupe Mountains in 1923, and developed his Guadalupe Mountains Ranch into a commercial enterprise, raising principally angora goats, along with sheep, cattle and horses. In 1942, John Smith sold the Frijole Ranch to J.C. Hunter for $5,000, and moved his family to Hawley, Texas, near Abilene. Smith's property became part of Hunter's commercial ranching operation.

The Kincaid Family

The Kincaid family
Kincaid family '42-'70
After the Smith family left the area, the Frijole house served as home and ranch headquarters for Noel Kincaid, J.C. Hunter's ranch foreman. Kincaid's father settled in the Dog Canyon area in 1912, and Noel Kincaid lived there until he moved to the Frijole house in 1947 with his wife, Lucille and family. In 1945, J.C. Hunter's son, J.C. Hunter, Junior, inherited the ranch. He sold the 72,000 acre property to the National Park Service in 1966. The Kincaid family continued to live in the Ranch house until their lease expired in 1971.

The National Park Service
Guadalupe Mountains National Park was officially established in 1972. The park's first ranger, Roger Reisch, lived in the Frijole house from 1972 until 1980. It was then renovated and used as office space from 1983 until 1991. In 1992, the Frijole Ranch House was again renovated and opened to the public as a history museum.
Site Gallery - Frijoles Ranch
 
The Frijoles Ranch The Frijoles Ranch The Frijoles Ranch
The Frijoles Ranch The Frijoles Ranch The Frijoles Ranch
The Frijoles Ranch
One has to marvel at the tenacity of the early settlers.
 
 
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