Seminole Canyon, which is situated 9 miles West of Comstock, Texas off of US 90, has petrography that the Natives painted more than 4,000 years ago. As the first pyramids were built in Egypt, the local Native foragers’ shamans were picturing their hopes and wishes onto the wall as well as ceilings of the shelter in this canyon.
Their favorite choice of color was red: a mixture of ochre rock, sotol or yucca juice, and deer grease. Because of the dyness and the shelter from wind and other elements, many of the petrography has survived to this day. They were painted on limestone. Their once brilliant colors have been hidden by soot and the smoke of many fires started by the natives in these shelters.
Many shamans are depicted holding an atalatl. They have either human or animal feet. Some have the head of a cougar and the antlers of a deer. Their arms are outstretched and have medicine bags hanging from their wrists. Sometimes their arms are depicted as wings.
Two plants were the shaman’s favorites for eliciting hallucinations and visions: the peyote and the datura. The peyote cult was depicted as red or black balls. Holding a plant depicted the datura cult.
A circle always depicted the entrance to the spirit world. A squiggle line shows the way. On the other side is usually a monster of some type. The monster has a lance stuck into it.
Many of the petrographs have succumbed to the elements and to the flecking of the limestone, and the ravages of man.
Tours are given daily to this petrography. Figure to spend about two hours for the tour: one and a half for the tour itself and another half-hour to go back to the visitor center. The descent into the canyon is over 800 feet, down uneven stone stairs. Then you have to ascend to the two shelters. There are places to rest along the way. Take water, and dress in layers.
Another twenty-five miles to the West is the tiny town of Langtry. Judge Roy Bean called this town home. He was appointed the Justice of the Peace with the help of the Southern Pacific Railroad, which ran from New Orleans to San Francisco. He dispensed justice quickly according to the Law West of the Pecos. He ran a saloon called the Jersey Lilly, named after the British actress Lillie Langtry. He had a crush on her picture and wrote many letters inviting her to visit. He even told her that he named the town for her. When she arrived for the visit in 1904, Judge Bean had been dead for four months and was buried in Del Rio, Texas.
When a prisoner was brought in, Judge Bean would close the saloon, choose a jury from his customers and hold court, with 1879 Revised Statutes of Texas and a pistol on the desk. He assumed the reputation of “The Hanging Judge”. Records, however, show that he never hanged anyone. For a cattle rustler or horse thief, the punishment was expulsion from Langtry and forfeiture of his horse, gun and all other assets. If the person ever returned, he would then be hanged. Few survived going across this wasteland without horse and firearms.
At the modern visitor center is a fifteen-minute movie depicting the life and times of Judge Roy Bean. The Jersey Lilly saloon and billiard parlor, and Roy Bean’s Opera House Town Hall and Seat of Justice (his home) where he wanted Lillie Langtry to perform for him. A Cactus Garden Interpretive Trail rounds out the attractions at this site.
Langtry is a bustling town of thirty inhabitants. Meals are almost nonexistent. So bring your own or stop in Comstock or further West.
Make sure you pull off at the overlook for the Pecos River. Looking South you see where the river runs into the Rio Grande and the hills of Mexico. To the North is Highway 90 and the sheer cliffs along this mighty river. All along US 90 you see Border Patrol agents in their cars looking for illegals who have crossed the river and are attempting to cross the Sonoran Desert.