More than 248 million years ago shallow seas still occupied one of the great geologic features of Permian Age, the Delaware & Midland Basins of Texas and New Mexico. Even then the climate of this region was arid as these basins stood in the rain shadow of the young and towering Ouachita Mountains rising to the east. Extensive reefs formed along the edge of the Delaware basin while a great accumulation of sediments filled the Midland Basin creating the vast oilfields for which it is famous today. As the Permian Age passed and sea level began to rise, the reefs ringing the Delaware Basin continue to grow rapidly until they stood high above that deepening basin, forming the El Capitan limestone series and giving their name to the second to last age of the Upper Permian, the Guadalupian Age. The topography of this region today reflects that time and the Delaware Basin is still a topographic low surrounded by mountains formed by the sponges, algae and bryzoans that built those ancient reefs.

The majority of the Guadalupe Mountains are located in New Mexico, only the highest and driest peaks are located across the state line in Texas. The Guadalupe Mountains National Park occupies the Texas portion of the Guadalupe Mountains, it was authorized by an act of Congress in 1966 and created on the 30th of September, 1972. Many people struggled to make the creation of a national park in this section of Texas a reality. However, two individuals stand out in their determination and tireless efforts to bring it into existance. They were Judge J.C. Hunter, and Wallace Pratt.

As early as 1925 the Guadalupe Mountains in general and McKittrick Canyon in particular had come to the attention of J.C. Hunter, County Judge of Culberson County and resident of Van Horn. Later Hunter purchased a section of land in part of McKittrick Canyon with the intent of donating it to help create a Texas State Park in the southern Guadalupes. Nothing came of his early efforts but Hunter and his family continued to aquire land in the Guadalupe Mountains until practically all of the Texas portion of the range was included in their Guadalupe Mountain Ranch. Hunter's stewardship of the Guadalupes is a testament to his vision and love for the land, both he and later his son J.C. Hunter Jr.'s conservation minded stewardship of the Guadalupes saw an increase in the wildlife resources of the mountains. The Hunter family used their Guadalupe Mountains property only lightly and always with the future they envisioned for the mountains in mind.

Wallace Pratt first entered the Guadalupe Mountains in 1921, he quickly became captivated by the beauty of McKittrick Canyon eventually purchasing thousands of acres in that canyon and building a stone and wood lodge that is today one of the highlights of the park. In 1957 Wallace Pratt donated his 5,632 acres in McKittrick Canyon to the U.S. Government with the desire to see a National Park Created in the Guadalupes. (next)

El Capitan
McKittrick Canyon
View of Mount Shumard from Guadalupe Peak

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