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March 2001

Release Date: March 9, 2001

Chihuahua Trail Exhibit at West Texas Collection

An exhibit of maps, photographs and assorted artifacts highlighting the Chihuahua Trail as it runs through the Hudspeth Ranch in Val Verde and Crocket Counties is on display in the Dr. Ralph R. Chase West Texas Collection at Angelo State University through April 20.

The materials were gathered by historical buff and ranch owner Claude B. Hudspeth III along a five-mile stretch of the 19th century road that runs through his ranch. The Chihuahua Trail was a trade route that extended from Mexico into Texas. It was a functioning route from 1849 to 1883 with as many as 2,000 freight wagons a year traversing the trail.

The Hudspeth Ranch is located between Beaver Lake and Howard's Well in Val Verde and Crockett Counties. Hudspeth identified the trail several years ago and began to collect artifacts from portions of the road that has gradually been overtaken by nature. His most critical finds have been wagon nails, which are a necessity to prove the existence of a wagon road.

In addition to the wagon nails, other artifacts represented in the display include muleshoes, horse shoes, tin cans, barrel straps, wagon parts, horse tack and rigging. Hudspeth has also found pottery shards, the top of a jug spout, buttons and buckles as well as musket balls, a Minie ball and numerous bullets for Henry and Spencer rifles.

One of Hudspeth's most interesting finds was an 1855 Sitting Liberty dime. Such dimes in mint condition are worth in excess of $16,000.

During ASU's spring break Monday through Friday, March 12-16, the West Texas Collection will be open 10 a.m. until noon and 1-5 p.m. Monday-Thursday and 10 a.m. to noon on Friday, March 16. Regular hours will resume March 19. They are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Mondays-Thursdays and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Fridays.