Boquillas, also known as Rio Grande Village, was on the Rio Grande eighteen miles southeast of Panther Junction in Big Bend National Park in southeastern Brewster County. Boquillas means "little mouths" in Spanish, presumably a reference to the numerous small streams or arroyos draining the Sierra del Carmen into the Rio Grande. The first American explorers of the region were surveyors who came under the command of Maj. William H. Emory in the summer of 1852. Emory's report made no mention of any settlement in the area, and the first development there did not occur for another three decades. On January 16, 1882, surveyors John T. Gano, E. L. Gage, and E. M. Powell traveled down the Rio Grande on flat-bottomed boats and arrived near the mouth of Boquillas Canyon. They were escorted by Texas Rangers under Capt. C. L. Nevill. According to local legend, they discovered a number of horses on the north side of the river near the mouth of the canyon. As they lacked the means to bring the horses with them, and because they believed that the animals would be used by hostile Indians, Nevill ordered all the horses killed; thus the canyon was called Dead Horse Canyon, and eventually the mountains to the north became known as the Sierra del Caballo Muerto, which means "dead horse mountains" in Spanish.
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