Tesnus is Sunset spelled backwards and is a creative name for a railroad town established in 1882 within the Gage Ranch as a section foreman town, water pumping station, and rail siding on the Southern Pacific Railroad. The town, now vanished, had at one time a post office, a section house, residences for the families, and several other buildings. It also served as a shipping point for ranchers in the area. Sunset, the preferred name after the Sunset Limited, was already taken in Texas so they just spelled it backward!
Tesnus Ranch is located just 45 minutes from the Gage Hotel east of Marathon on highway 90 then south 12 miles on a private well-maintained deeded easement road to the ranch’s front gate. The Union Pacific Railroad cuts through the ranch and near the old town site of Tesnus is where the current headquarters is located. This vast private area is bounded by the House Top Mountains on the north and east and Shely Peaks Mesa on the south with a series of wooded canyons, mountains, valleys, and draws. Maxon Creek and Alamo Creek cut across this ranch creating vegetated riparian areas.
Tesnus is a cattle and hunting recreation ranch with an amazing amount of seclusion framed between towering mountains all within diverse low, mid to high desert habitats. An excellent all-weather caliche road provides access into the ranch where near the entrance there is a very nice modern 3-bedroom 2-bath Headquarters home with covered porches and large windows framing the area mountains. The house is within a complex of older outbuildings, barns, and pipe pens with scales. Beyond the Headquarters there is a series of roads that provides access to the mountains and across the broad valleys throughout the ranch.
Housetop Mountain to the north is the dominate nearby feature with the mouth of Fin del Mundo Canyon spilling out into hills and slopes above the Headquarters. Dramatic is an understatement! Castle Mountain to the south of the headquarters adds additional vistas as the main road heads south toward Alamo and Maxon Creeks. The roads heading up into the high country on the east are well built and once on top the views are stunning. Hanging limestone valleys with pines, madrones, oak, juniper and diverse yuccas and shrubs creates a lost world where you can find elk, deer, and aoudad. From the top you can see the Maderas del Carmens, and Sierra Del Carmens in Mexico as well as the Chisos Mountains of Big Bend National Park to the south. The Shely Peaks Mesa and the various mountains on the ranch to the south contribute to the array of stunning views. Elevations range from 3,761 to 4,850 feet.
Once you get into the south Shely Mesa area up Alamo Canyon there are limestone cliffs, wooded canyon floors, pinon pine woodlands, and towering mountain tops. A road will take you to the Mesa South Rim where you can look off over San Francisco Creek valley into Mexico beyond.
Habitats here are diverse on Tesnus with lower to mid elevation desert grasslands and scrubs, wooded canyons to pine-oak highlands and an array of Chihuahuan Desert grasses, forbs, shrubs, cactus, and trees. Plants include dagger, yucca, lechuguilla, creosote, catclaw, javalina bush, mariola, sotol, ocotillo, and cholla with a mix of chino grama, black grama, red grama, bear grass, and sideoats grama. Brush and trees include pinon pine, juniper, hackberry, mesquite, persimmon, madrone, sumac, mountain laurel, and oaks in the higher elevations and draws. In springtime this landscape is in bloom with a wide variety of cacti, yucca, daggers, and native forbs.
This property is home to many species of birds, raptors, songbirds, and game birds such as blue (scaled) quail, mourning dove and white-winged dove as well as larger mammals such as desert mule deer, elk, javelina, aoudad, mountain lion, and occasional black bear. The brush, forbs, and grasses provide excellent habitat for these game and non-game animals. Wooded canyons are ideal for birdwatching and during spring and fall migration a myriad of neotropical songbirds.
The ranch is a working cattle ranch with a very nice headquarters home and outbuildings next to a very nice set of central pipe shipping pens. Tesnus has a well-developed extensive water system that is need of repair but with electricity all the way down the railroad tracts there are a series of submersible pumps and boosters that pumps the water up into the mountains and into a series of reservoirs and troughs. Roads provide access to most all of the ranch and there are several crossings over the railroad and two Trestles you can drive under.
There are seven wells both submersible and windmills that are tied into an extensive water system that scatters water not only through the low country but also into the high mountains. This system is being repaired by the current Lessee and once back in operation will be a reliable system for wildlife, livestock and the Headquarters. Water in the region is excellent and abundant. There are several earthen tanks that provide water during wet periods of the year.