Sunset transformed the tan adobe walls of the Gage Hotel in
|Rafting in Big Bend National Park
Restored to its original glory in stages during the past 30
years, the Gage is a Texas Historic Landmark.
Built in 1927 for Alfred Gage, a prosperous businessman and rancher
living in San Antonio who needed accommodations in West Texas, the original
hotel welcomed travelers in this widespread, sparsely populated ranching and
mining community. The building fell into
disrepair after Gage died until J. P. and Mary Jon Bryan of
After checking in, we left the main hotel and walked through the courtyard, lavishly landscaped with purple, pink, and white flowers, to our room in Los Portales, “The Porches.” This Spanish-inspired addition was built adjacent to the original property in 1992. As for all 20 rooms in Los Portales, ours featured an antique entry door constructed of aged mesquite wood salvaged from abandoned buildings in Mexico. The doors are all different, most over 100 years old and handmade of dozens of pieces of wood fitted together in complex designs.
Right outside the door of our room we stepped into a traditional adobe courtyard or “placita,” which historically provided protection from the hot desert sun and housed the community well—now interpreted as a lovely fountain made of Mexican volcanic stone.
Following pioneer construction techniques, bricks for Los Portales were made on premises—80,000 made from a sun-dried mixture of caliche soil, straw, and water--and walls were later finished with a coat of gypsum plaster. Brick on porches, clay floor tiles, and brightly hand painted bathroom tiles are all from
Room furnishings—blankets, tables, chairs, headboards, lamps,
and artwork—reflected the combination of Western, Native American, and Mexican
cultures. And, just so you wouldn’t forget that this was the Old West, Big Horn
sheep skulls decorated outside walls.
Dinner on premises at Café Cenizo featured entrée selections ranging from smoked cabrito (young goat) for the adventurous to grilled lamb chops and bacon-wrapped quail for traditionalists and several varieties of local cuisine: enchiladas (a regional favorite), catfish, and chicken fried steak (my husband’s choice).
In addition to Big Bend National Park, Marathon is convenient for day trips to McDonald Observatory, Big Bend Ranch State Park, and Sul Ross University in Alpine. The Gage Hotel is located at the intersection of highways 90 and 385. www.gagehotel.com
Photos by Larry and Beverly Burmeier