Sam Nail Ranch

Emory Peak, Texas 79834

Sam Nail Ranch

Sam Nail Ranch Professional Guide

Detailed Trail Description from our Guidebook

"This short, well-maintained trail loops through the old Sam Nail Ranch site. Sam Nail and his younger brother, Jim, moved to the valley between the western slope of the Chisos Mountains and Burro Mesa in 1916.

With little outside help, they dug a well and built a one-story adobe house above Cottonwood Creek at the base of Burro Mesa. The home had a concrete floor, wooden viga-and- cane ceiling, and sheet-metal roof. With milk cows, chickens, cattle, a garden, and fruit trees, they were relatively self-sufficient. In 1918 Sam married Nena Burnam, whose family lived nearby at Government Spring."

Sam Nail Ranch Trip Reports

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3/26/2011
A short walk to the windmill pump - still working - that was erected in 1916. There's a bench that provides a nice view of the oasis area and there are plenty of birds to watch. The windmill water pump created a respite from the Big Bend heat and is very pleasant.
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1/10/2009
Short loop that gives you an idea of life in the Big bend region in days past. They've placed a newer windmill to continue to provide water to the surviving nail family garden(including a pecan tree)
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1/1/2001
I've done this short trail multiple times in all seasons. I've seen the structure barren of foliage and covered to the point that it was hard to see. the trail that winds around by the new (and the original) windmills is a cool shady place to relax for a while whil you ponder what life must have been like for Sam as he raised his livestock. Picture opportunities abound but vary with the season and time of day. It's an easy walk and worth your time.
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5/30/1921
I am Sam and Nena Nail's daughter (I grew up on the Nail ranch in what is now the Big Bend National Park). I would like to correct a few errors I saw in the description of the Nail ranch.

My father, Sam Nail, was three years younger than his brother Jim. Jim Nail had moved to Alpine before my parents married in 1918. The house at Cottonwood Creek was the third "dwelling" that my father and his brother occupied in the Big Bend. The first was a camp, near Dugout. The second was a log cabin in present day Pine Canyon (which was then known as Nail Canyon). The house on Cottonwood Creek was built in 1916 and had a typical flat dirt roof. A wooden floor was added soon after 1918. The metal roof was added in the 30's.
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Sam Nail Ranch Photos

Trail Information

Emory Peak
Nearby City
0.5
Distance
Loop/Lollipop
Trail Type
Easy
Skill Level
30 minutes
Duration
Year-round
Season
Big Bend National Park
Local Contacts

Trail Log