COMSTOCK, Texas – In the rugged and rough landscape where the Pecos meets the Rio Grande, near the legendary little town of Langty, where Judge Roy Bean dispensed his lay down of law, sits a canyon with some of the most serene and stunning settings of the Lone Star State.
Randy Rosales grew up just down the road in Del Rio and now gets to showcase this Texas treasure every day.
“I can’t ask for a better office, that’s for sure,” Randy says.
Seminole Canyon stretches for miles in these parts, and the terrain itself is worth taking the time to see, but there’s more here than just the scenery.
“Seminole Canyon’s a pretty unique place,” Randy said. “It’s got a lot of history, a lot of stories. Some stories we know a lot about and some stories are still a mystery even today.”
In the caves and caverns of the desolate destination is signs of some of the earliest life in all our lands.
“People have been living in this region for over 12,000 years,” Randy informed us.
It’s hard to image, but back then elephants, camels, and carnivorous cats lived in these parts. The reason we know that are these paintings left behind by a people that are long gone.
“These drawings were being drawn around the same time period that the Egyptian pyramids were being built,” Randy informed us. “That’s how far back they go. Who they were we don’t know. We just know that they left their mark on the land.”
First discovered by Spanish explorers in the late 1500s, the cave drawings are the oldest known in North.
“Outside of about a 50 mile radios, a circle around where we’re at, this particular style rock art, which we call the lower Pecos River style, disappears. It is nowhere else in the world,” Randy said.
After taking a short hike, we got a firsthand look at this history in the hollows.
“You can really see the color pallet on this one. The different colors they used,” Randy shared. “Your reds, your blacks, yellows, and oranges. We couldn’t decide at first what this individual really is or who he was. Archaeologists believe that this might actually represent some kind of ceremony. You can see the people. Some of the figurines seem to be gathered around this particular panel in this particular center beam. There are clues that you can always find. Look at their feet, the way they’re pointing. They all seem to be gathered around this particular center being.
The stories these paintings tell stir your imagination.
“A lot of the rock art is enigmatic, very abstract. It doesn’t appear to resemble anything that we recognize today, so that’s part of the difficulty since we don’t know who the author of them were,” Randy said. “But some of them you can kind of make out, like the ones up here at the top. Catlike ears, long claws, long hairy tail, some would say that that’s probably a panther or a mountain lion. Of course, the question is, why would you draw a mountain lion? Did they encounter a mountain lion, or was a mountain lion a part of their story? Notice it’s got red streaks coming from its mouth. Does that mean it’s bleeding or is it talking? So you can see how it can be difficult to interpret, but that’s what archaeologists are doing now. They’re finding clues, and the research is really giving us insight into what some of these symbols may mean.”
What’s truly amazing about these people and culture is that their reign in the region lasted a long time.
“This particular style lasted 1,500 years,” Randy says. ”So when we associate that culture with that rock art style, then you’re looking at 1,500 years. When you compare that to the age of our country, we just started.”
Despite lasting for such a long time, the lifespan of these murals is limited. With changes to the local environment these, lines to a lost linage are starting to decay at an alarming rate.
“They’re slowly disappearing, and unfortunately there’s not much we can do about that,” Randy said. “That’s just a natural deterioration that comes with weathering and things of that nature. There’s nothing you can apply to the walls that isn’t going to change the composition of it. Our challenge is to learn as much now and to record it as much as we can even today so that they’re still around, perhaps in digital format, but we can still learn long after they are gone.”
So make a stop in Val Verde Country to see some of the oldest recorded history on our side of planet Earth, making it well worth a stop on The Texas Bucket List.
“If you’re into the history of people, people of this side of the world, then this is a place you want to come,” Randy says.