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Nature does nothing uselessly --Aristotle

Thunderbird Mountain, El Paso TX

Thunderbird Mountain, Franklin Mountain Range, El Paso Texas

explored & photographed by: Shady

 

In the Franklin Mountain range lies a most mysterious natural anomaly- Thunderbird Mountain. Getting it's name from the gigantic, amazing Thunderbird-shaped natural formation of red clay on the mountainside, it's been there as long as anyone can remember, watching over the Southwestern desert, and it's legends are many. It is said that the Thunderbird dwells in this mountain range, and indeed, it's presence in the red clay of the mountainside is unmistakable, guarding the desert landscape, wings outstretched, head turned to the side, an immense, mythical silhouette...

Thunderbird Mountain, El Paso TX

Thunderbird Mountain, El Paso TX

Thunderbird Mountain, El Paso TX

Thunderbird Mountain, El Paso TX

The Great Thunderbird is an American Indian legend; they say the mammoth bird dwells in the mountains; when it comes out to hunt it stirs up violent thunderstorms in it's wake- lightning flashes from it's razor-sharp beak and thunderclaps sound from it's massive wing-beats. The Thunderbird dominated the sky, cloaked in thick, rolling storm clouds. It devoured Killer Whales, swooping down to the water to pluck them up with it's great talons. It is both feared and revered by the people in the region. Some claim the Thunderbird legend is based in reality. In fact, there have been many "giant bird" sightings throughout history; some have even claimed that these huge mystery birds have carried off small children! So, what is the Thunderbird, exactly- fanciful legend, or cryptozoological mystery? Who can say... (see bottom of page for more Thunderbird links!)

Mexican Poppies, El Paso TX

Mexican Poppies, El Paso TX

Mexican Poppies, El Paso TX

Mexican Poppies, El Paso TX

Mexican Poppies, El Paso TX

And on the other side of Thunderbird Mountain is something equally mysterious- the Mexican Poppy fields. Every Spring these bright flowers cover the desert floor at the base of the Franklins like a lush yellow carpet as far as the eye can see. Nobody knows how these gorgeous blooms got here, although there are many theories. Some say they were planted by U.S. Army National Guard troops from nearby Fort Bliss many years ago, while others claim the fields were seeded by air in the 1920's and 30's to create a tourist attraction. There is even a theory that a truckload of sheep from California were let loose in the fields to graze years ago, where they "deposited" the Californian poppy seeds that they had devoured.

Mexican Poppies, El Paso TX

Mexican Poppies, El Paso TX

Mexican Poppies, El Paso TX

Mexican Poppies, El Paso TX

Mexican Poppies, El Paso TX

Mexican Poppies, El Paso TX

Mexican Poppies, El Paso TX

Mexican Poppies, El Paso TX

Either way, they've been blooming as long as anyone can remember. There are also some interesting ruins to be found in the poppy fields (above, left) such as the remains of a stick hut and the foundation of an old casita. We also found a rather sinister looking water fountain, with some sort of grotesque creature standing guard. Fort Bliss has an artillery range (Castner Range) on the outskirts of the fields, which makes for some kinda funny-yet-disturbing warning signs (above, right) And always, in the distance, you can see the majestic Franklins looming above all... home to it's many strange and mysterious legends.

Would you like to learn more about the Thunderbird legends? Here are a few useful links:

Thunderbird

Mystical Midnight Thunderbird- amazing photographic evidence of the Thunderbird...?

True Authority- Thunderbird legend and background

Mystery of the Thunderbird- in search of the legend

Crypto Corner- cryptozoological reports and sightings

Do you have any background information or stories to tell about this mysterious site?

 

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