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What is: St Agnes Chapel, Terlingua, TX…the ghost town of Terlingua Texas, a small single and simple one room adobe church,  in some disrepair, with plain hard wooden benches, a worn pine floor, simple altar and stain glass windows. Apparently in 2016, the church got some repair work done to its adobe walls

 

What was: The ghost town of Terlingua is in the heart of the Chihuahuan Desert, one of the most rugged and hostile environments in Texas. The discovery of quicksilver in the mid-1880s turned Terlingua from a sleepy little village into a town of a thousand-plus residents. Cinnabar is a red stone from which using a chemical process, mercury is extracted.  By 1913, Terlingua had a dependable water supply, mail delivery, somewhat reliable telephone service, a hotel, and a physician. As the mining continued, by the 1930s, the town was home to 3,000 people and became the leading producer of mercury.  Slowly, however, the mines ran out of ore and closed and the town began its decline in the 1940s. In 2010 census there were 60 people officially living in the town.

In 1914, St. Agnes Church, also known as Chisos Mission, was established and became a focal point of the Terlingua mining town. The adobe building was constructed on a raised stone foundation on the side of a hill overlooking the town. The building has survived the ravages of time and remains an iconic symbol of the importance of faith in this remote place.

Itinerant priests held services at the church once a month and also officiated at baptisms, weddings, and funerals. Church records indicate the priests adopted the Terlingua Cemetery. Although the burial ground is listed as St. Agnes Chisos Cemetery on church records, the official death records continued to list it as the Terlingua Cemetery. While the town was once segregated with Mexican families living east of the company store and Anglo families to the west, both Mexicans and Anglos were laid to rest in the same cemetery.