On this day in 1972, Guadalupe Mountains National Park was established. The 76,293-acre park in Hudspeth and Culberson counties includes Guadalupe Peak, the highest point in Texas at over 8,700 feet. Indian rock art sites indicate Native American occupation as far back as 12,000 years, and the Apaches lived in the Guadalupe Mountains as late as the 1880s. In the 1920s J. C. Hunter purchased the Guadalupe Mountain Ranch and raised Angora goats there. Efforts to preserve the land as a park date to the 1930s when Hunter’s son offered to donate 300 acres of scenic McKittrick Canyon to the state of Texas. By the 1960s land donations and sales to the National Park Service paved the way for the establishment of a national park. Guadalupe Mountains National Park contains eighty miles of trails, and the maple and hardwood trees of McKittrick Canyon offer brilliant fiery hues for hikers in the autumn.
On this day in 1869, Texas governor Elisha Pease resigned in protest against the actions of Reconstruction authorities. Pease, a Unionist during the Civil War, helped organize the Republican party in the state after the war. In 1867 he was appointed governor by Gen. Philip Sheridan. Pease's efforts to reorganize the state government and bring accountability to its actions bred conflict in the Republican ranks and bitterness among former Confederates. He resigned from the governorship in 1869 because of differences with Gen. Joseph J. Reynolds over Reconstruction policies that Pease considered radical and despotic, particularly the army's dismissal of Pease's supporters from state office.
On this day in 1905, the American Rio Grande Land and Irrigation Company received a charter from the state of Texas. In 1900 Benjamin Franklin Yoakum, manager of the Frisco railroad system, had developed a plan to extend the St. Louis, Brownsville and Mexico Railway from Houston to Brownsville. He recognized the agricultural potential of the area and soon collected a group of St. Louis capitalists to form the American Rio Grande Land and Irrigation Company with a capital stock of $1.25 million. The main accomplishment of the company was integrating the development of irrigation, the coming of the railroad, the sale of farmland, and the establishment of the town of Mercedes. The first company office was a boxcar on a railroad siding; the second was a two-story building in Mercedes. The company built a settling basin, a pumping plant on the river, a canal, and an electrical plant in Mercedes in 1906-07. By 1920 the irrigation system consisted of three large canals, five pumping plants, reservoirs and settling basins, and extensive drainage works; in 1929 local farmers purchased the irrigation portion of the company.