“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Comstock in Val Verde County, Texas — The American South (West South Central)

Dead Man's Pass

Dead Man's Pass Marker image. Click for full size.
By William F Haenn, November 30, 2014
1. Dead Man's Pass Marker
Inscription. This narrow canyon marks a remote and perilous section of a road traveled from San Antonio to El Paso and on to California following the Gold Rush of the 1840s. Adding to the hardships of a journey that took several weeks, this particular area was notorious for wild animal attacks and raids by Native Americans and highwaymen. Also known as Dead Man's Run, the feature was named by 1849; an ambush on a Dr. Lyon's wagon train that year ended with two teamsters and an unknown number of Indians dead. In 1850, a group met a similar fate when they turned back from Beaver Lake (25 mi. N) and passed through here en route to San Antonio for supplies. Four teamsters were killed in the encounter.

The U.S. Army attempted to protect travelers on the hazardous road. When forts Clark (60 mi. SE) and Inge (90 mi. SE) proved to be too remote, the army established Camp Hudson on the Devils River 10 miles north of here in 1857. However, dangerous conditions continued for many years. In A Texas Pioneer, freighter August Santleben (1845-1911) enumerated several dozen civilians and soldiers killed along the trail, including five members of the Amlung family and seven others who perished here one day in 1858. The pass was considered dangerous as late as the early 1880s. Santleben chronicled several deaths in the area over a 40-year period,
Dead Man's Pass Marker site image. Click for full size.
By William F Haenn, November 30, 2014
2. Dead Man's Pass Marker site
totaling nearly 400 in southwest Texas.

Two similar topographic names nearby recall the risks of 19th century travel. Dead Man's Creek rises two miles southwest of this site and flows southeast to the Devils River, while Dead Man's Canyon begins a mile to the northeast and runs west to the Pecos. This path that later became a stage route to Ozona and then State Highway 163 is today remembered as a treacherous frontier road.
Erected 2007 by Texas Historical Commission. (Marker Number 13909.)
Marker series. This marker is included in the San Antonio-El Paso Road marker series.
Location. 29° 48.048′ N, 101° 8.783′ W. Marker is in Comstock, Texas, in Val Verde County. Marker is on State Highway 163 9 miles north of U.S. 90, on the right when traveling north. Touch for map. Marker is at the gate to Dead Man's Pass Ranch. Marker is in this post office area: Comstock TX 78837, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 2 other markers are within 11 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Comstock (approx. 8.1 miles away); Site of Camp Hudson (approx. 10.9 miles away).
Regarding Dead Man's Pass. Texas Route 163 follows the trace of the San Antonio-El Paso Military Road constructed in the summer of 1849 by the U.S. Army.
Categories. Native AmericansRoads & Vehicles
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on December 2, 2014, by William F Haenn of Fort Clark (Brackettville), Texas. This page has been viewed 331 times since then and 3 times this year. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on December 2, 2014, by William F Haenn of Fort Clark (Brackettville), Texas. • Bernard Fisher was the editor who published this page.
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