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Big Bend: A Homesteader's Story

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Offline Casa Grande

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Big Bend: A Homesteader's Story
« on: January 22, 2008, 07:32:25 AM »


This book, written by J.O. Langford and Fred Gipson (Old Yeller), follows the chronicles of the Langfords from their purchase of the Hot Springs to the settlement of it in the early days, and all the way to when the Park Service acquired it.

The tale starts with the family's move from Midland via Alpine in the first decade of the 20th century.  J.O.'s debilitating sickness drives he and his family, along with his pregnant wife, through the harshest country in the State with the hope that the Hot Spring will "cure" him and his ailments.  If you are hoping for a play by play of how the Hot Springs got off the ground and became a prosperous resort, you will be disappointed.  The book mainly deals with the Langford's establishment of the Hot Springs during the first few years. 

The books reads as if each chapter is a small anecdote, not really having a flowing plot line to keep you riveted from one chapter to the next.    Sort of like Grandpa telling you tales of the old days where the stories don't really have anything to do with the other.  Some of the stories are quite interesting, some anticlimactic, some scary and a few are, well uninteresting (of course, that is all relative.)

Although this isn't the first book I would recommend to read, it is definitely worth putting in your Big Bend library.  It is a great reference book for how life was in the Big Bend during the first part of the 20th century.  Big Bend: A Homesteader's Story is about $16  and can be purchased from the Big Bend Bookstore @ http://bigbendbookstore.org/store/index.php?main_page=product_info&products_id=45

If you have read this book, feel free to post your own comments about it here.
« Last Edit: January 22, 2008, 07:35:05 AM by Casa Grande »

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Offline Roy

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Re: Big Bend: A Homesteader's Story
« Reply #1 on: January 22, 2008, 07:41:15 AM »
I first read it years ago, and still think it's one of the better ones.  Suggestion:  Read it and then go stand on the foundation of his old house above Hot Springs;  really makes the place come alive.

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Offline Casa Grande

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Re: Big Bend: A Homesteader's Story
« Reply #2 on: January 22, 2008, 07:56:46 AM »
Read it and then go stand on the foundation of his old house above Hot Springs;  really makes the place come alive.

Yes! I would recommend that for all the books about the "old days."  There is nothing more terrifying/interesting than reading about the Glenn Springs Massacre while sitting in the middle of it on a full moon night.

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Offline JimNewOrleans

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Re: Big Bend: A Homesteader's Story
« Reply #3 on: January 22, 2008, 07:58:30 AM »
Read it also, yrs ago, and while I can not recall specifics, I do remember it was a good read.  Not well written by literary standards, but I like that - sounds conversational, more real that way.  It is hard to imagine the hardships these people endured to follow their dream or vision;  every day was a struggle in one way or another.   They sound so in touch with the land that you envy them.    I like historical books like this that you can pick up, open, and enjoy for while, as opposed to reading from cover to cover.  

On a related note, I searched "library" on this site, and didn't get a relevant hit, and "book" has too many fragmented hits... so I will ask this question, and maybe someone could direct me to an existing thread???  Or, a external resource?  I had a large BB library built up over 20 yrs : historical, geology, flora, arial photos, even military presence in BB ( I remembr a great pic of bi-plane pilots practicing by flying between the mule ears).  Not all were great, but I treasured them.  Due to a storm in '05 in New Orleans I lost it all, and now am at a point where I might begin to pick up a BB book every few months.  My question is, is there a thread in here where people have dicsussed recommended BB books?  I cannot recall which I had, and any way, when reprinted, they often have different covers.  I would appreciate any direction...?

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Offline Casa Grande

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Re: Big Bend: A Homesteader's Story
« Reply #4 on: January 22, 2008, 08:08:00 AM »
My question is, is there a thread in here where people have dicsussed recommended BB books?  I cannot recall which I had, and any way, when reprinted, they often have different covers.  I would appreciate any direction...?

ah, but that would be the one you are in right now: http://www.bigbendchat.com/portal/forum/index.php/board,43.0.html

(newly created it today :icon_wink: )

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Offline bdann

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Re: Big Bend: A Homesteader's Story
« Reply #5 on: January 22, 2008, 08:13:51 AM »
This was the first or second book I read about Big Bend.  It really got me interested in the history of the region, which opened up a whole new side of the park for me. 
WATER, It does a body good.

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Offline JimNewOrleans

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Re: Big Bend: A Homesteader's Story
« Reply #6 on: January 26, 2008, 10:09:35 PM »
good grief -  i searched all over the board.. or so i thought ...  and totally missed this - THANKS!    a lot to digest, plan,..... and budget for.....    looks like amazon.com & ebay  will have some wish lists for me logged in within the near future .....   

Maybe I could cut & paste the books onto a file and let it 'accidentally' stay on the pc screen at home, just in case my wife needs a hint at what to get me for next christmas!

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Offline sstrong42

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Re: Big Bend: A Homesteader's Story
« Reply #7 on: March 24, 2009, 04:53:46 PM »
This book is a great read.  I picked this up after my first trip out to Big Bend.  There was a ranger program my night in the Basin and I attended.  The ranger ended up talking about the early days of the Bend before the park and read from this book.  It's a great story and I think is a required read for any serious Bender.

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Offline Voni

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Re: Big Bend: A Homesteader's Story
« Reply #8 on: March 26, 2009, 11:16:00 AM »
I'm loving this book.  I so admire the people who tried to tame this land! 

My favorite quote so far:


Quote
There were in these sights a splendor and magnificence not to be denied.  There was in them, too that which could quiet and ease the restless spirit of man.

Voni
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Live deeply, laugh fully, love widely
Terlingua, TX

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Offline jeffblaylock

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Re: Big Bend: A Homesteader's Story
« Reply #9 on: March 26, 2009, 02:50:56 PM »
This is a great read. From the Hot Springs ruins, it's possible to hike up to the old homestead location. Imagine if this was your patio:

Jeff Blaylock
Austin, Texas

"We'll be back, someday soon. We will return, someday, and when we do the gritty
splendor and the complicated grandeur of Big Bend will still be here. Waiting for us."--Ed Abbey

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Offline Voni

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Re: Big Bend: A Homesteader's Story
« Reply #10 on: March 26, 2009, 04:00:20 PM »
A very rich life, indeed!

Voni
  sMiling
Live deeply, laugh fully, love widely
Terlingua, TX

      http://www.bigbend.net/users/glaves/
   photo site:  http://s14.photobucket.com/albums/a326/VoniGlaves/

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Offline TheWildWestGuy

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Re: Big Bend: A Homesteader's Story
« Reply #11 on: March 26, 2009, 11:01:38 PM »
What I loved most about this book is that I could go back to the old ruins around the Hot Springs and actually see and feel the things that JO Langford wrote about.  If you go up and around the hot springs on the "loop" trail back to the parking lot  you will see the cement foundation of his original home and remnants of the windlass he used to haul water up from the hot springs.   It's neat to actually see the places and things described in this book and to imagine what it was like 2-3 generations ago... TWWG

 


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