Big Bend Ranch Sate Park offers some of the most interesting archeology and history in the region. There are presently over 500 documented sites on the park. Many of the known sites are located near water sources but sites also occur on upland areas away from any obvious drainages, springs or tinajas. There is both need and potential at BBRSP for additional archaeological research to be conducted.
The earliest artifacts identified within BBRSP indicate that Native Americans traversed the area as early as perhaps 11,000 years ago, and continued to do so well into the 19th century. Native American site types attributable to the prehistoric era include open campsites, open camps associated with rock shelters, rock shelters, quarries, lithic scatters, Late Prehistoric Cielo complex (ca. A.D. 1250-1680) sites, rock art sites (primarily pictographs, or rock paintings) and special-use or ritual sites.
Many pictographs that have been recorded within the park are monochromatic red, black or white. Bichrome and polychrome (red, black, yellow, white) figures also occur. The figures include humans, animals, insects, tally marks, double zigzags, hourglass chains, star patterns and various other abstract motifs. Most of these pictographs were probably painted during the Late Archaic (ca. 1000 B.C. - A.D. 1000) or Late Prehistoric (A.D. 1000 - 1535) periods. Other pictographs represented by human figures on horses, longhorn cattle, Spanish saddles and crosses date to the Protohistoric (ca. A.D. 1535-1700) period or later.
Though no early Spanish sites have yet been identified within the park, archival documents indicate that Pedro de Rabago y Teran traveled through the area in 1747 during his search for suitable sites to construct presidios. Beginning in the late 1840s, subsequent explorers, surveyors, missionaries, traders and freighters followed the Texas Chihuahua Trail, which followed Alamito Creek through what is now the northwestern portion of the park. In 1860, topographical engineer 2nd Lieutenant William H. Echols led his experimental caravan of 24 camels, 25 pack mules and 31 soldiers through the Terneros Creek valley, which extends across the western and northern areas of BBRSP. This experiment was authorized in the 1850s by Secretary of War Jefferson Davis to determine if camels could have military applications on the arid western frontier.
By the 1880s several area ranches had been established and cattle, goats and sheep became a common sight on the landscape. The local communities of Terlingua and Shafter quickly sprang up in the late 19th and early 20th centuries with the discoveries of silver and cinnabar. No silver was mined within the boundaries of the present-day park, but there are several former cinnabar mines and prospects in the area. Another industrial endeavor pursued in the area was rendering of wax from the native candelilla plant. The ruins of wax-rendering operations, most of which probably date to the first half of the 20th century, can be seen in the eastern portion of the park.
In addition to archeological sites, a number of extant historic structures are located within BBRSP. Among these structures are the buildings at the La Sauceda Ranch complex. The Sauceda ranch house or the "Big House" as it is known today, was constructed in 1908 and remodeled in the 1940s. Other structures of the historic Sauceda Ranch complex include a former bunkhouse, wool barn, tack barn, stock tank, corrals and various other features.