Beneath Texas sands, a historic ranch awaits funding for preservation

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Ruins that archeologists call one of the last links to the original ranches and cowboys that shaped Texas have been kept behind a gate, literally buried, for more than two decades - awaiting the funding that would allow people to see them.

The 18th-century Rancho de las Cabras complex, with its stone building remains, was a birthplace of the large commercial ranching operations that would help define the state. Preservationists have long hoped it could be fully excavated and opened to the public, but the site has been unable to attract the money it would need from Congress or the National Park Service’s stretched budget.

Texas park officials realized in the 1980s that they couldn’t afford to protect the ruins, so they covered the walls with sand in an effort to prevent them from disintegrating before archeologists could fully document and shore up the site. Until a month ago, no one had seen them since.

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