Sometimes you can live in an area and never really know everything about it. About twenty-five miles from where I used to live outside of Lubbock, Texas is a historical site called Ransom Canyon. I never knew it existed until I moved there. In the 1800’s it was the scene of human flesh trading. But in 1977 it was incorporated into a town full of very exclusive homes. It’s a beautiful place.
Originally called Yellow House Canyon, it became known as Ransom Canyon after the Comancheros, the Comanche and Apache Indians met there to trade. The Comancheros would trade guns and whiskey for stolen cattle or, more often than not, white captives. They would then ransom 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. I can’t imagine what the captives must’ve went through.
But who were the Comancheros?
They were a blood-thirsty outlaw group who roamed the Llano Estacado (it’s pronounced ya-no esta-kado) 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 covers over 32,000 square miles.
Back to Ransom Canyon though….
It was carved out by a tributary of the Brazos River. Steep walls protect the huge canyon with a lake and plenty of wildlife there which made it a perfect haven for travelers.
The Comancheros and Native Americans weren’t the only ones who used it. Because of its clear trickling streams and towering cottonwoods, it became regularly traveled. Buffalo hunters, U.S. Army soldiers, frontier settlers, and cowboys with their cattle herds camped there as well.
I drove over often to take pictures. When I stepped out of the car, I got goosebumps. Just standing on the ground where so much happened made me pretty emotional. When I closed my eyes I could see the frightened faces of the captives. I felt their spirits. 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?