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Clock-wise from left: Comanche and Apache Indians ruled the Southwest in the latter 1800s; Lt. John Bell Hood; Rock shelters were home to civilizations along the corridor for centuries.


Devils River. On July 20, 1858, Lt. John Bell Hood and his force of 25 cavalry were tracking a Comanche war party whose trail led them to its bluff s. When Hood caught up with the Indians, he found their camp on a ridge marked with the white flag of surrender. As the cavalry warily approached the


site, a small group of warriors came forward to greet them. But just before they met, the Comanche threw down the fl ag and set fi re to the brush. As fl ames leaped into the air around Hood and his men, Indians on the ridge above opened fi re while dozens more attacked the fl ank of the small troop. T e ensuing battle was brutal, during


which Hood’s left hand was pinned to his saddle with an arrow. He broke off the shaft and continued to fi ght. When the smoke cleared, Hood had lost two men, with four wounded; the Comanche had lost 19. T e Army later awarded Hood and his men for their valor at the “Devils River Fight.” Most of the danger (read: excitement) of


Devils River today comes from its remote location. T e nearest hospital is 70 miles away, and travelers have to keep a healthy respect for the primitive nature of this area.


Conditions remain much the same as they have for centuries, the only graffi ti along the river’s limestone walls being left by people in 2,000 A.D. It’s rare to fi nd such untouched rugged beauty on private property. It’s a testimony of the stewardship of the land- owners along the river valley. In 1988, approximately 20,000 acres


along the river were designated Devils River State Natural Area. Now visitors have an opportunity to experience the river valley through hiking, primitive camping, and canyon tours. Just understand that the intent of the Natural Area is to keep it as close to


its original state as possible, so don’t expect a day spa. Come to think of it, if you were looking


for a day spa, you probably wouldn’t be inter- ested in a place called Devils River anyway …funny how that works out. However, if white-knuckled adventure is your game, don’t miss a chance to experience this Texas gem. •


Down the Road is a production of T e Ranch Road Show, a touring production where music, hometown life and the arts meet at the rural crossroads. www.ranchroadshow.com


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