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Apaches were able to resist the Spaniards, who began losing their tenuous hold on the area in the 1700's. In the 1800's encroachment by Anglo-American homesteaders forced the Comanches southward. And by the early 1800's Mexican settlers lived in the Big Bend. Isolation made them targets of Comanche raids. Mid-1800's gold strikes in California and destruction of bison herds hastened the Comanches' decline. Military forts were built to secure the route to California gold fields. If the Rio Grande is the Big Bend country's linear oasis, then the Chisos Mountains are its green island in a sea of desert. The mountains attract creatures, several quite rare, you would not expect in a desert. The isolation set up thousands years ago as the great ice age ended accounts for their rarity. As colder, moister climates retreated northward, many plants and animals were stranded in the Chisos Mountains by the surrounding lowlands' increasing aridity.

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Additional Photos by Zbigniew Kalinowski (fotka) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 644 W: 9 N: 1911] (8056)
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