[Amanda Mayo is our Contributing Editor Marfa. Click here to visit her blog.]
Hallie Stillwell was a pioneer woman who married a rancher and made the trek west in the covered wagon days. She was well known in the region and in the state of Texas. Travel South from Marathon and turn left at the ranch road just before Persimmon Gap Headquarters of Big Bend National Park, continue about 9 miles and come across the Stillwell Store and RV Park.
Having heard about the Hallie Stillwell Hall of Fame Museum I was curious but unsure if the museum would be open on a Sunday. We were greeted by Hallie’s grand daughter in the Stillwell store. She gave us a key attached to a large flat wooden coyote and told us to please turn the lights off when we were finished. “Be sure and watch the video, it’ll help your knowledge.”
Upon entering the museum, situated to the right of the store in an old but renovated adobe, a large portrait of Hallie in her iconic red boots and red cowgirl hat is a friendly greeting. In the large, parlor like, room to the right is the video. It was shot when Hallie was 97, I seem to remember her grand daughter telling me, by Austin College. It’s a fascinating video not only about Hallie and the Stillwell Ranch, but about the history of the Big Bend, Big Bend National Park, and the borderland.
The Hall of Fame is filled with things from Hallie’s life. Chili Cookoff Queen cowgirl hats from Terlingua, furniture, her family’s belongings, writings, books, and western life. The Stillwells give new meaning to the word survive and if you live in the area or are interested in the history I highly recommend a trip to this wonderful resource and celebration of an incredible woman’s life and family.
Upon bringing the key back I chatted with her grand daughter who is quite an accomplished crochet artist and we made it onto the porch with a coke. Spent the rest of our time chatting about contemporary issues in the region with a couple of locals. It seems surviving in the desert, and the even more deserted corners is still difficult and still worth respect.