Historical commission restores Horsehead Crossing marker

'Lonesome Dove' was based on famed cattle drive


One of the most iconic and moving image about Texas is the adaptation of Larry McMurtry’s Lonesome Dove. Starring Robert Duvall and Tommy Lee Jones, the television mini-series was based on the real-life cattle drive of Charles Goodnight and Oliver Loving that left Fort Belknap on June 6, 1866 headed towards Fort Sumner, New Mexico.

At one rather dangerous point in the drive, the herd traveled from the Middle Concho River near present day San Angelo to Horsehead Crossing on the Pecos River, a distance of almost 70 miles, without water. It took them three days. Upon reaching Horsehead Crossing (in Crane and Pecos County) the herd then followed the Pecos River north, on up into New Mexico where they sold their herd at Fort Sumner. This event has been recorded as the first trail drive, and the first use of the chuckwagon.

In 1936, the State of Texas placed about 1,100 exposition buildings, memorial museums, statues, and gray and pink granite markers and monuments around the state to celebrate 100 years of the Lone Star State.

One of them was at Horsehead Crossing, in Pecos County. The original marker was large, with a bronze wreath and star at the top.

The original marker has suffered defacement and damage since its installation. Vandals pried the bronze wreath and star out almost 60 years ago, and the granite is pockmarked with bullet holes.

Earlier this month, the Pecos County Historical Commission initiated a restoration of the historic marker, starting with replacing the bronze fixtures that have been absent for decades.

The Texas Historical Commission, created in 1953, monitors the 1936 markers and coordinates their repair or relocation when necessary, and coordinates this activity through the County Historical Commissions (CHCs).

July 3 marked153 years ago since the arrival Charles Goodnight, Oliver Loving, their cowboys and the nearly 2,000 head of cattle at this very spot in an effort to earn much-needed cash following the Civil War.

For more information, contact Pecos County Historical Commission secretary Kirby Warnock at kirby@bigbendquarterly.com, phone (214) 600-5861, or visit the PCHC’s web site at https://www.pecoscountyhistoricalcommission.org/horseheadcrossing

For a video of Horsehead Crossing in 1956 and 2016, go to: https://youtu.be/QT0YgWXbOBI

For an aerial view of the site and more history go to: https://youtu.be/muFhYTRpKVI