J. O. Langford’s Legacy

J. O. Langford's Legacy ©2001 Jeff Blaylock

In 1909, J. O. Langford moved his family to the confluence of Tornillo Creek and the Rio Grande. Langford had heard reports of a therapeutic hot spring capable of curing “stomach trouble, rheumatism, and all sorts of skin diseases.” He suffered from recurring bouts of malaria himself. On the site of the spring, Langford built a stone bathhouse to fulfill the requirements of the Homestead Act. Over time, he was “cured” by the springs. He became a self-taught doctor, school teacher, postman, and manager of a spa. For 10 cents a day, a person could soak in the springs. A complete 21-day treatment cost $2.
The ruin shown here is the post office and store, which the Langford family built in 1927. He also constructed a series of hotel units along the three-quarter mile path to the spring. In 1942, the Langford family sold this land to the government for inclusion in the new national park. For 10 years, a woman named Maggie Smith ran the store. Because of her generosity and kindness, she was known to many as the “godmother of the Mexican people.” The resort was finally closed in 1952. And, yes, the palm tree is not native to the Big Bend area.
This photo has been digitally altered to appear as though it had been through a stepwise sepia toning process. The original color photograph can be seen here.
J. O. Langford’s Legacy, BB01-306-24X, Big Bend National Park, Texas | ©2001 Jeff Blaylock.

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  1. Guy De Leon

     /  August 20, 2006

    I’ve taken my family to this place many times over the past 24 years, and have just finished J.O.Langford’s book “Big Bend” and both the book and site it’s self are full of the history of people and place that gives mear land a life that can and does capture one’s soul for a lifetime.
    They say that a picture is worth a 1000 words and that is true, but only in reading the tales of the people that lived, loved and died in a place can one truly know a place. Go there and find what J.O. knew: ” There were in these sights a splendor and magnificence not to be denied. There was in them, too, that which could quiet and ease the restless spirit of man.”
    Such is the power of the Big Bend of Texas

  2. Steve James

     /  June 17, 2007

    Hi my great grandfather is J.O.langford I can not tell you how much it means to me,to read the comments about him.I have never been to BIG BEND but I visit there every time I read his book. Steve James
    Jeff replies, your great grandfather and his family were very important parts of the history of the place we love. I hope you make it there sometime — the love for Big Bend is in your blood.


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