University of Texas at Austin wordmarkUniversity of Texas at AustinCollege of Liberal Arts wordmarkCollege of Liberal Arts
Texas Beyond History
TBH Home
Trans Pecos Main
Prehistoric Texas Main

Credits & Sources

photo of Curtis Tunnell
Wax Camps author and former Texas Historical Commission Executive Director Curtis Tunnell.

The Wax Camps along the Rio Grande exhibits are based on the 1981 Texas Historical Commission report written by the late Curtis Tunnell. (Tunnell's life and career are traced in the section, Tunnell's Journey). His artistry as a writer and photographer is evident throughout these exhibits.

The Wax Camps exhibits were developed and edited by TBH Co-Editor Susan Dial with webmaster Meg Kemp and were made possible with support through the Curtis D. Tunnell Memorial Fund grant, Friends of the Texas Historical Commission. JoAnn Pospisil, Pat Mercado-Allinger, Andrew Cloud, and Raymond Skiles served as exhibit reviewers.

photo of JoAnn Pospisil
Ethnohistorian JoAnn Pospisil, shown balancing on a mysterious "devil's ball" in Ojinaga, Mexico.

Historian JoAnn Pospisil wrote the section entitled, "The Industry Today" and also provided many of the photos used in these exhibits. She holds a Masters degree in History from the University of Houston and is a "life student" of the Big Bend area. She has written a variety of articles on the economy and folk life of the region, including her study of the little-known involvement of women in wax making. With THC steward Enrique Madrid and his wife Ruby serving as interpreters, Pospisil visits wax camps and interviews wax makers in northern Mexico, including several candelilleras, or female wax workers. She also has compiled a bibliography of Hispanic-related materials in the Archives of the Big Bend at Sul Ross State University. She is a Certified Archivist currently working at the Baylor College of Medicine Chancellor's Office and Archives in the Texas Medical Center, Houston, but frequently makes the lengthy drive to Alpine to enjoy, study, and then write about the Big Bend area.

photo of Curtis Tunnell
Contributors to the Wax Camps exhibits. From Left, JoAnn Pospisil, Enrique and Ruby Madrid (standing), and Big Bend wildlife biologist Raymond Skiles. Photo by Susan Dial.

Raymond Skiles provided many exceptional photos for these exhibits, capturing not only the breathtaking scenery of the Chihuahuan desert but the character of the wax workers who make their living from its resources. A native of Langtry, Texas, Skiles grew up on the Rio Grande and today serves as Wildlife Biologist for Big Bend National Park, National Park Service. Skiles has made numerous trips into northern Mexico to meet with the wax makers and photograph their techniques.

Website of the Texas Historical Commission.
Big Bend National Park website with sections on the area's history, culture, and environment plus practical information on getting to the park, weather, and events.

Print Sources

Alcocer, G., and J.M. Sanders
1910   Euphorbia Cerifera, Alcocer. Anales del Instituto Medico Nacional, Mexico 2:155-162.

Blair, W. Frank
1950   The Biotic Provinces of Texas. The Texas Journal of Science 2 (1):93-117.

Buckelew, F.M., and S.E. Banta
1911   Buckelew the Indian captive, or the Life Story of F.M. Buckelew while a Captive among the Lipan Indians in the Western Wilds of Frontier Texas. Printed by Mason Herald, Mason, Texas.

Casey, Clifford B.
1972   Mirages, Mysteries, and Reality: Brewster County, Texas, the Big Bend of the Rio Grande. Sponsored by the Brewster County Historical Survey Committee. Pioneer Book Publishers, Seagraves, Texas.

Correll, D.S., and M.C. Johnston
1970   Manual of the Vascular Plants of Texas. Texas Research Foundation, Renner, Texas.

Daugherty, P.M., H.H. Sineath, and T.A. Wastler
1953   Industrial Raw Materials of Plant Origin, Vol. 3: A Survey of Candelilla Wax. Engineering Experiment Station Bulletin 15(12). Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta.

Dickinson, Thomas
1919   Production of Candelilla Wax in Monterey, Mexico. American Journal of Pharmacy, December: 808-809.

Douglas, William O.
1967   Farewell to Texas: A Vanishing Wilderness. McGraw-Hill, New York.

Emory, William H.
1857   Report on the United States and Mexican Boundary Survey, Made under the Direction of the Secretary of the Interior. U.S. House of Representatives, 34th Congress., 1st Session. Exec. Doc. 135. Washington, D.C.

Gerald, Rex E.
1968   Spanish Presidios of the Llate Eighteenth Century in Northern New Spain. Museum of New Mexico Research Records 7. Santa Fe.

Goddard, Ruth Ogden
1969   Ralph Ogden. Pemberton Press, Jenkins Publishing Co., Austin.

Graham, Joe S.
1975   Tradition and the Candelilla Wax Industry. In Some Still Do: Essays on Texas Customs, edited by F.E. Abernethy, pp. 39-54. Texas Folklore Society Publication 39. Encino Press, Austin.

Greer, John W.
1965   A Typology of Midden Circles and Mescal Pits. Southwestern Lore 31 (3):41-55.

Hare, R.F., and A.P. Bjerregaard
1910   Examination of Candelilla Wax. Journal of Industrial and Engineering Chemistry 2 (5):203-205.

Hitchcock, Totsy N.
1960   Some Big Bend Personalities, 1895-1925. Masters thesis, Sul Ross State College, Alpine, Tx.

Hodge, W.H., and H.H. Sineath
1956   The Mexican Candelilla Plant and Its Wax. Economic Botany 10 (2):134-154.

Holden, William C.
1975   Alton Hutson: Reminiscences of a South Plains Youth. Trinity University Press, San Antonio.

Langford, J.W., with Fred Gipson
1973   Big Bend: A Homesteader's Story. 2nd ed. University of Texas Press, Austin.

Literary Digest
1921   Wax Worth Millions from Weeds. Literary Digest, No. 69 (June):21.

Madison, Virginia
1968   The Big Bend Country of Texas. Rev. ed. October House, New York.

Mallouf, Robert J., and Curtis Tunnell
1977   An Archeological Reconnaissance in the Lower Canyons of the Rio Grande. Office of the State Archeologist Survey Report 22. Texas Historical Commission, Austin.

Maxwell, Ross A.
1968   The Big Bend of the Rio Grande: A Guide to the Rocks, Landscape, Geologic History, and Settlers of the Area of Big Bend National Park. Bureau of Economic Geology Guidebook 7. The University of Texas at Austin.

Miller, Tom
1979   The Mexican-American Border: A Third Nation. Geo 1:30-36.

National Academy of Sciences
1975   Underexploited Tropical Plants with Promising Economic Value. Report prepared by an ad hoc advisory panel of the Board on Science and Technology for International Development, Commission on International Relations, National Research Council, for the Agency for International Development. National Academy of Sciences, Washington, D.C.

Olsson-Seffer, P.
1909   Vegetable Waxes from Mexico. Bulletin of the Imperial Institute, South Kensington 7 (4):410-411.

Pospisil, JoAnn
1994   Chihuahuan Desert Candelilla: Folk Gathering of a Regional Resource. Journal of Big Bend Studies. Sul Ross State University, Alpine, Texas.

1996   Women and Wax: Female Participation in the Candelilla Wax Industry. Journal of Big Bend Studies. Sul Ross State University, Alpine, Texas.

1997   Candelilla Wax's Importance in the Big Bend Region. West Texas Historical Association Yearbook, Vol. 73:70. Abilene: Hardin-Simmons University.

Raht, Carlysle Graham
1963   The Romance of Davis Mountains and Big Bend Country: A History. Edition Texana. Rahtbooks Company, Odessa, Tx.

Smithers, W.D.
1963   Bandit Raids in the Big Bend country. Sul Ross State College Bulletin 43 (3):74-105. (Also West Texas Historical and Scientific Publication 19.)

1976   Chronicles of the Big Bend: A Photographic Memoir of Life on the Border. Madrona Press, Austin.

Texas Legislature
1907   S.B. No. 118: Lands Providing for the Sale of Guayule on Public Free School Lands. In General Laws of the State of Texa Passed at the Regular Session of the Thirtieth Legislature, pp. 251-252. Von-Boeckmann-Jones, Austin.

Tunnell, Curtis
1981   Wax, Men, and Money: A Historical and Archeological Study of Candelilla Wax Camps along the Rio Grande Border of Texas. Office of the State Archeologist Report 32, Texas Historical Commission, Austin.

Tunnell, Curtis, and Robert Mallouf
1975   Cultural Resources in the Canyons of the Rio Grande. Office of the State Archeologist Special Report 17. Texas Historical Commission, Austin.

Tyler, Ronnie C.
1975   The Big Bend: A History of the Last Texas Frontier. National Park Service, U.S. Dept. of the Interior, Washington, D.C.

U. S. Imports of Merchandise for Consumption, Vegetable Wax, Commodity
Number 1521100020 (graphed volume and price statistics), 2000

Vines, Robert A.
1960   Trees, Shrubs, and Woody Vines of the Southwest. University of Texas Press, Austin.

Webb, Walter Prescott
1947   The Big Bend of Texas. Panhandle-Plains Historic Review 10:7-20.

Weber, David
1982   The Mexican Frontier, 1821-1846: The American Southwest Under Mexico. University of New Mexico Press, Albuquerque.

Whitaker, John R.
1941   Wax from the Wilderness. Nature Magazine, November 1941, pp. 497-500.

Wood, Captain D.C.
1963   The Glenn Springs Raid. Sul Ross State College Bulletin 43 (3):64-72. (Also West Texas Historical and Scientific Society Publication 19.)

Zuccarini, Dr. Jos. Gerh.
1832   Description of Euphorbia antisiphylitica Zuccar. In Adhandlungen der Mathematisch-Physikalischen Classe der Koeniglish Bayerischen Akademie der Wissenschaften, Vol. 1, fasc. 1, pp. 292-293. Munich.

Interviews and Personal Communications

Adams, David
1977   Interviewed in Stillwell Crossing, Tx., by Curtis Tunnell.

1980   Interviewed in Marathon, Tx., by Curtis Tunnell.

Areniva, Agapito
1976   Interviewed in Presidio, Tx., by Curtis Tunnell.

Armendariz, Luis
1976   Interviewed in Presidio, Tx., by Curtis Tunnell.

Bryant, Vaughn
1976   Personal communication. (Letter of July 1976 provided to Curtis Tunnell.)

Burleson, Bob
1976   Interviewed in Austin, Tx., by Curtis Tunnell.

Casner, J.E.
1976   Interviewed in Alpine, Tx., by Curtis Tunnell.

Earwood, Clem
1977 Interviewed in Alpine, TX., by Mavis Bryant.

Harrison, J.
1977   Interviewed in Sanderson, Tx., by Mavis Bryant.

Ornelas, Tom
1976   Interviewed in Presidio, Tx., by Curtis Tunnell.

Riojas, Ramón
1980   Interviewed at Adams Ranch, Brewster County, Tx., by Curtis Tunnell.

Stillwell, Hallie
1976   Interviewed in Alpine, Tx., by Mavis Bryant.

Thomas, D.D.
1977   Interviewed in Alpine, TX., by Mavis Bryant.

Walker, Mrs.
1975   Interviewed in Candelária, Tx., by Curtis Tunnell.