About thirty miles from where I live in West Texas is an historical site called Ransom Canyon. It was incorporated into a town in 1977, but in the 1800’s it was the scene of trading in human flesh.
Originally called Yellow House Canyon, it became known as Ransom Canyon after it became the regular meeting place for the Comancheros and the Comanche Indians. The Comancheros would trade guns and whiskey for stolen cattle or, more often than not, white captives. The Comancheros would then ransom off the captives back to their families for a hefty sum. If the families didn’t or couldn’t meet the price, the captives were sold to the highest bidder. Not a pleasant life for sure.
Here’s a pretty good shot of the canyon.
But who were these Comancheros, you ask?
They were a blood-thirsty group mostly of Mexican descent who roamed the Llano Estacado commonly known as The Staked Plains (an area that covers western Texas and the Panhandle and extends into eastern New Mexico.) It’s one of the largest mesas or tablelands on the North American continent. One source says it’s over 32,000 square miles.
Back to Ransom Canyon though….
It was carved out by a tributary of the Brazos River. The huge canyon was protected by steep walls.
The comancheros and Comanche weren’t the only ones who used it. Because of its clear trickling streams and towering cottonwoods, it became regularly traveled. Besides the Comanche and Comancheros, buffalo hunters, U.S. Army soldiers, frontier settlers, and cowboys with their cattle herds camped here.
I drove over to take some pictures of the Texas Historical marker and see what else I could see. When I stepped out of the car, I got goosebumps. Just standing on the ground where so much happened was pretty emotional. When I closed my eyes I could feel their spirits and see the frightened faces of the captives. They say the canyon is haunted and I can believe it.
Have you had a strong connection to a historical place where it felt like you’d stepped back in time?
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