The city of Terlingua was a ghost town that was re-invented in the 1960s as the “Chili Capital of the World.” In 1967, the Chili Appreciation Society International began its first annual chili cookoff in Terlingua.
The Texas legislature named chile con carne the official state dish in 1977, but no official state chili capital was ever declared.
Wikipedia: Terlingua, Texas
Terlingua is a mining district in southwestern Brewster County, Texas, United States. It is located near the Rio Grande and the Texas villages of Lajitas and Study Butte, as well as the Mexican village of Santa Elena. The discovery of cinnabar, from which the metal mercury is extracted, in the mid-1880s brought miners to the area, creating a city of 2,000 people. The only remnants of the mining days are a ghost town of the Howard Perry-owned Chisos Mining Company and several nearby capped and abandoned mines, most notably the California Hill, the Rainbow, the 248 and the Study Butte mines. The mineral terlinguaite was first found in the vicinity of California Hill.
On the first Saturday of November, approximately 5,000 “chiliheads” convene in Terlingua for two annual chili cookoffs—the Chili Appreciation Society International and the Frank X. Tolbert / Wick Fowler World Chili Championships.
Handbook of Texas Online
TERLINGUA, TEXAS. The name Terlingua has been applied to three different settlements in southwestern Brewster Country. The original site was a Mexican village on Terlingua Creek three miles above the confluence with the Rio Grande. With the discovery of quicksilver in that area in the mid-1880s, the Marfa and Mariposa mining camp became known as Terlingua; the original site was then referred to as Terlingua Abaja, or lower Terlingua.
On October 1, 1942, the Chisos Mining Company filed for bankruptcy. A successor firm ceased operations at the end of World War II when most of the population dispersed. Terlingua became a ghost town. During the late 1960s and early 1970s tourism brought new life to the village. Terlingua became famous for its annual chili cook-off and in 1967 was deemed the “Chili Capitol of the World” by the Chili Appreciation Society. The former company store reopened as a gift and art shop, river float trips are scheduled in the former cantina, and a dinner theater occupies the former motion picture theater. In 1994 Terlingua had thirteen businesses and a population of twenty-five. The population was 267 in 2000 with forty-four businesses.
A Bowl of Red
Welcome to the Original Terlingua International Website!
Please join us as we celebrate this 42nd annual 2008 Original Terlingua International Frank X. Tolbert - Wick Fowler Championship Chili Cookoff!
October 30th, 31st and November 1st, 2008
Terlingua International Chili Champions
Year Champion City State
1967 Wick Fowler Austin TX
H. Allen Smith (Tied) Mt. Kisco NY
1968 Woody DeSilva Los Angeles CA
1969 C.V. Wood, Jr. Havasu AZ
1970 Wick Fowler Austin TX (...)
25 April 1964, Dallas (TX) Morning News, “Tolbert’s Texas” by Frank X. Tolbert, section 4, pg. 1:
MESSAGE TO J. HOWARD Payne, the former and long-time Dallas postmaster, who has volunteered to become postmaster at Terlingua, Texas: The City of Terlingua, near Big Bend Park and the Rio Grande, which is being organized into “The Chili Capital of the World” by Owner and Mayor David A. Witts, already has a postmaster. She is Mrs. Davey Adams. Mrs. Adams’ post office is at a service station and store, not within the city limits of Terlingua but about three miles down the highway.
29 July 1966, Denton (TX) Record-Chronicle, pg. 1, col. 1:
Wick Fowler, chief chef of the Chili Appreciation Society (International), has a lot of fun kidding his own product.
“2-Alarm is used by the City of Terlingua, the chili capital of the world, instead of water fluoridation. Terlignuans, according to tests, have fewer cavities, because they have fewer teeeth.”
20 October 1967, Brownsville (TX) Herald, pg. 10, cols. 1-3:
Chief Chili Chef Hurls
Challenge At Humorist
By WICK FOWLER
CASI Chief Chef
Written for UPI
Since I am the chief chili chef of CASI, I was chosen to participate in the world champion chili cook-off against the chili imposter from the East, at Terlingua—population two—the recognized chili capital of the world.
14 August 1968, Dallas (TX) Morning News, “Tolbert’s Texas” by Frank X. Tolbert, section D, pg. 1:
As you may know, the incorporated ghosttown of Terlingua, Texas, in the Big Bend, has been styled “The Chili Capital of the World.” In a special chili edition of the Springfield newspaper there was an earnest effort to claim that the Illinois megalopolis is the really chili capital. There were big headlines such as “SPRINGFIELD IS! TERLINGUA AIN’T!”
16 August 1969, Dallas (TX) Morning News, “‘Governor’ Blanchard Honored,” section A, pg. 8:
ONE BLANCHARD proclamation declared that Terlingua “has become illustrious throughout the world as a veritable fount of knowledge for all wisdom concerning chili” as a result of the world championship chili cookoffs held there. He proclaimed Terlingua as “now and forevermore, beyond any question of doubt, as the chili capital of the world, and that to it shall be accorded all honors and privileges due an established world capital, including eligibility for foreign aid.”
15 February 1970, Galveston (TX) Daily News, pg. 12A, col. 2:
“Tourist Talk,” official publication of the Texas Tourist Council, outlines the 12 world capitals Texas brags about:
Crystal City, spinach capital; Tyler, rose capital; Bandera, cowboy capital; Terlingua, chili capital (population 9 people); Perryton, wheat capital; Friona, maize capital; New Braunfels, sausage capital; Comanche, peanut capital; San Angelo, wool capital; Amarillo, helium gas capital; and San Saba, pecan capital.
Texas (Lone Star State Dictionary) • (0) Comments • Sunday, January 20, 2008 • Permalink