I’ve Been To El Paso TX Many Times But Have Never SEEN This Historic City


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North America » United States » Texas » El Paso
March 16th 2015
Published: March 30th 2015
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From my retirement in 1998 until I began “The Great Adventure” in March 2010, I lived 2-1/2 hours from El Paso TX, whose literal translation means “The Passage,” and have been to the city many times to shop and to retrieve or to deposit passengers at the airport but have never actually SEEN the historic city. As an adolescent, El Paso’s namesake song by Marty Robbins offered a certain mystique to the city. Stories related by my relatives and my father’s friends who had been stationed at nearby Fort Bliss TX fueled my fascination.

Having travelled through western Texas and southeastern New Mexico many times, I often wondered what factors caused such a vibrant, thriving city of almost ¾ million people (22nd largest in the U.S.) to develop HERE – amid such stark desolation. The short and obvious answer is water from the Rio Grande, but there had to be more. Indeed, El Paso has an interesting history, particularly when seen from the varying perspectives of the Anglo, Mexican and Native communities.

My journey to Mission RV Park in El Paso from Countryside RV Resort in Apache Junction AZ would be L-O-N-G by a retired guy’s standards – about
This Third Chapel Was Completed In 1877This Third Chapel Was Completed In 1877This Third Chapel Was Completed In 1877

Presidio Chapel of San Elizario - San Elizario TX
400 miles. I departed Phoenix metro eastwardly on U.S. 60 on Tuesday, March 10, 2015 and passed through Globe and Miami AZ on the way to Safford AZ where I turned south on U.S. 191 toward its junction with I-10. Eastbound I-10 brought me to well within traffic noise of Mission RV Park.

Being out of practice (I had travelled almost due north in 2014); I had forgotten that travelling almost due east results in a loss of daylight hours. By the time I had arrived, the sun had set and dusk was upon me so I performed a minimal exterior set-up. Instead of following my normal modus operandi of making the tourism center my first stop in a new destination, I completed the Pilgrim set-up in the morning and opted to visit three attractions that were (according to the tourist map I received at the RV park office) nearer the RV park than the downtown visitor center.

My first stop on Wednesday, March 11, 2015 was in San Elizario TX, a few miles south of El Paso. The original Presidio Chapel of San Elizario was built for Mexican troops stationed in the valley in the 1770s. The chapel provided the religious
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Presidio Chapel of San Elizario - San Elizario TX
needs of the soldiers stationed at the Presidio (outpost of military personnel) to protect travelers and settlers along El Camino Real or “the royal road” between Mexico City, Mexico and Santa Fe NM. The Presidio’s close proximity to the Ysleta and Socorro missions also provided protection for them.

When Mexico became independent from Spain in 1821, the military presence at the Presidio decreased. In 1829, the chapel was destroyed by the flooding of the Rio Grande and the Mexican Army totally abandoned the Presidio. Another chapel was built to replace the destroyed one. During the Mexican–American War, after San Elizario was occupied by the United States, U.S. troops were assigned to the Presidio. During the Civil War, volunteers from California were stationed there to prevent a reoccupation of the area by Confederate forces.

By the 1870s, the old chapel proved inadequate, and the present Presidio Chapel of San Elizario was built in the central square of San Elizario and completed in 1877. The exterior appearance has changed very little since then; however, in 1935, the chapel was badly damaged by fire, and the interior was rebuilt.

A few yards from the chapel is a small museum that
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Ysleta Del Sur Pueblo - Tigua Indian Reservation - El Paso TX
offers insight into the lives of the locals and appears to be an invaluable genealogical resource, but is of little import to the average tourist; however, San Elizario is an interesting, historic stop in its own right and offers over a dozen monthly and annual events. Free guided walking tours are offered monthly and a printed guide to a 17-stop Self-Guided Walking Tour of the San Elizario Historic District is available at numerous locations. I learned that the (seasonally) monthly Art Market would be held during my stay so I decided to return for the festivities. After all, the ‘ole boy is always ready for a hootenanny!

My second stop of the day was at the Ysleta del Sur Pueblo on the Tigua Indian Reservation in El Paso. Ysleta del Sur Pueblo (in Spanish “del Sur” means “of the south”) is the oldest community in the State of Texas and is the southernmost of the Rio Grande Indian Pueblos that extend northward to the Santa Fe area. Ysleta del Sur Pueblo is a Puebloan Native American community whose ancestors were displaced from New Mexico in 1680 and 1681 during the Pueblo Revolt against the Spaniards.

Several placards chronicle the Tigua timeline from the Spanish Period (1540-1821), through the Mexican Period (1821-1848) and finally the American Period (1848-Present), and a handful of interesting, well-documented artifacts is on display; however, this museum is nice but is so small and so focused that I believe it would be of minimal interest to the average tourist.

My final stop on Wednesday was the Chamizal National Memorial in El Paso. The Memorial is located near the United States–Mexico international border and is a National Park Service site commemorating the peaceful settlement of the Chamizal boundary dispute. As a matter of orientation, the entire area around present day El Paso and Ciudad Juarez was known as El Paso del Norte (remember, El Paso means “The Passage” in Spanish). “Del Norte” translates to “of the north” – quite far north for the powers to be (at the time) in Mexico City!

In 1835, Texas battled for and gained independence from Mexico, and Texas (the Lone Star Republic) was a sovereign country for the next decade. In the Treaty of Velasco, the Texas-Mexico border was established as the Rio Grande. The Mexican President signed the treaty but the Mexican Congress did not ratify it, nor did succeeding Mexican presidents acknowledge Texas’ independence.

Texas was annexed by the United States in 1845. Mexico claimed the international border to be the Nuecos River (which runs roughly parallel to the Rio Grande about fifty to one-hundred miles northeast of it) while the U.S. claimed the border to be at the Rio Grande.

The dispute simmered until the early 1960s when President López Mateos of Mexico and President John Kennedy met in Mexico City. The presidents discussed many things but specifically they discussed Cold War politics. Indeed, the 1960s was the heart of the Cold War era, a time when the Soviet Union and the United States were fighting each other in every way except direct warfare. Militarily, politically, and economically, it was like the U.S. and the Soviet Union were playing a game of chess in which they kept moving their pieces across the world game board but never accomplished checkmate. Ideologically, it was “democracy” versus “communism.”

The possibility that the southern neighbor of the U.S. might turn communistic would pose a direct threat to U.S. national security. Kennedy went to visit the Mexican president to improve relations between the two countries and, ultimately, to make sure a Mexican-Soviet alliance did not form. President López Mateos told Kennedy that if the U.S. President really wanted to make things better between the U.S. and Mexico, then the two countries needed to figure out a solution to the old Chamizal dispute. The presidents made an agreement: the Chamizal dispute must be peacefully settled, now.

After Kennedy was assassinated in 1963 and Lyndon Johnson became President, Johnson swore that he would continue the policies of Kennedy. And so, it was during Kennedy’s tenure that the resolution of the Chamizal dispute started, but it was Johnson and the people that worked with him on both sides of the border that finished the resolution. In July 1963, the Chamizal Convention was signed in Mexico City. In April 1964, the “Chamizal Convention Act” became law in the U.S.

On September 25, 1964 (Chamizal Day), Presidents Johnson and López Mateos met to officially approve the Chamizal Convention of 1963. Perhaps one of the finest moments in the history of Mexico-United States relations was when the two presidents met in the middle of the international bridge. They walked up to each other and shook hands—a common symbol of peace, friendship, and goodwill. At this moment, the Chamizal Convention of 1963 became a reality, and the Chamizal dispute was resolved after 100 years of conflict.

Since Chamizal National Memorial commemorates the Chamizal Convention of 1963, many assume that the Memorial sits on the actual Chamizal tract. Actually, the Chamizal tract is a couple of miles west of the park. The memorial has a nice visitor center with a short video, several well done informational placards and two very nice murals. Other than the symbolism and the associated history, I see no viable reason why the average tourist would visit the memorial – particularly since the actual Chamizal tract is a couple of miles from the park.

Thursday found me heading to downtown El Paso and the El Paso Convention and Visitors Bureau. I had several notes on my list including getting information about the Railroad & Transportation Museum of El Paso. It turns out that the former museum is now the Visitors Bureau. Several informational placards are on display but the only artifact is a nicely restored El Paso and Southwestern Railroad's Locomotive Number 1 which was built in 1857 and retired in 1909. The young lady on duty was pleasant and tried to be helpful
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El Paso Museum Of History - El Paso TX
but had only cursory knowledge of the attractions and had not been to any of the attractions I inquired about – EXCEPT the Railroad & Transportation Museum of El Paso!

I walked a dozen or so blocks to the El Paso Museum of History. A large portion of this small museum was under construction or reconfiguration, as the case might be; but there were a couple of exhibits that were quite informative. One outlines the five “C”s that have been responsible for El Paso’s sustained growth – Climate, Commerce, Cattle, Cotton and Copper. Commerce was established by the natives along what would become El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro National Historic Trail (the Royal Road of the Interior) long before Anglo inhabitation of the area. That trail extended south from San Juan Pueblo NM (near Santa Fe) to what is now the U.S. border with Mexico at El Paso and then continued roughly 1,000 miles further south to Mexico City.

Climate and cotton coexist in the five “C”s scheme. One placard notes that the Rio Grande was the agricultural life source for the area and that Spanish colonists used forced Indian labor to construct a system of canals to irrigate the farmland. Strict rules were established for water utilization and
Cotton Was, And Remains, An important Cash CropCotton Was, And Remains, An important Cash CropCotton Was, And Remains, An important Cash Crop

El Paso Museum Of History - El Paso TX
canal maintenance. Interestingly, the system of electing officials to oversee water distribution was so effective the system was used for over 400 years. Cattle eked out a living all over the vast ranchlands of the west and copper, mined primarily in the New Mexico Territory, was processed in and shipped from El Paso.

Another section of the museum addresses Spanish colonization. During the 1500s, fierce competetion existed between European nations to colonize the New World. Spain concentrated its efforts on what today is South America and Mexico. After criticism of abuses against the Aztec peoples by the Spanish, colonization efforts were focused on Christianization of the Native peoples and, thereafter, the principal instruments of the colonization effort were the missions.

The missions along El Camino Real are discussed briefly, the struggle for Mexican independence from Spain is summarized and the Mexican–American War, along with the “shifting border” problem following the Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo which ended that war, are highlighted. Finally, the 1873 incorporation of the City of El Paso (population 800) is discussed briefly and some interesting, colorful, historical accounts of early El Paso are provided – the stuff of which “The Great Adventure” is made!

One story I found in my research relates that, with the arrival of the Texas and Pacific, the Southern Pacific and the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe railroads in 1881, the population of El Paso boomed and had risen to 10,000 by the 1890 census. Newcomers ranged from businessmen and priests to gunfighters and prostitutes. The location of El Paso (as well as the arrival of these more wild newcomers) caused the city to become a violent and wild boomtown known as the "Six Shooter Capital" because of its lawlessness.

Hoping to reestablish law and order, El Paso hired a town marshal with a rough, but effective, reputation. Dallas Stoudenmire, the sixth marshal in eight months, was hired to tame the out of control town. Stoudenmire, an effective marshal due to his dexterity with his pistols, was known to shoot first and ask questions later. He effectively intimidated a violence-hardened town and also used fear to control the City Council.

City Council members decided they had had enough and would fire the marshal. Stoudenmire learned of this plan. On May 28, 1882, the City Council met. Stoudenmire entered the Council Chambers and strolled up and down the chamber as he scolded, cursed and threatened to shoot. Drawing out and twirling his pistols, he threatened, "I can straddle every God-damn alderman on this council!"

The coerced Council members quickly voted unanimously to retain Stoudenmire as town marshal. Stoudenmire glared at them for a few seconds before he calmed down and put away his pistols. Stoudenmire exited the Chamber, and a potentially fatal incident was averted. Such was not the ending of the famous "Four Dead in Five Seconds Gunfight" which took place in El Paso on April 14, 1881. That incident also involved Stoudenmire and, ultimately, led to his demise on September 18, 1882. The "Four Dead in Five Seconds Gunfight" is outlined in the museum.

The small museum should be interesting for residents of the area and for those who have a short stay in El Paso, but, for those with longer stays, most of the information conveyed in the facility is readily available in other area institutions. That having been said, the “life lessons” of the museum curator added a different cultural perspective to the “Story of El Paso” than those I had found at the other institutions. For that, it was a worthwhile stop.

My third and final stop for
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Magoffin Home State Historic Site - El Paso TX
the day was at the Magoffin Home State Historic Site also in El Paso. James Wiley Magoffin (1799–1868) left Kentucky for Mexico in the 1820s seeking adventure and opportunity. He met his wife, Maria Gertrudis Valdez, in Saltillo, Mexico. They married in Chihuahua, Mexico in 1839 and had eight children. He became a widely respected trader and businessman, known locally and on the Chihuahua-Santa Fe Trail as “Don Santiago.”

His influence extended into politics, as he arranged the peaceful surrender of Santa Fe during the American invasion of Nuevo Mexico (New Mexico) in 1846. After the Mexican-American War, he made extensive land purchases along the Rio Grande and created the settlement of Magoffinsville, a forerunner of present-day El Paso and an early site of Fort Bliss. In 1867, floods destroyed his hacienda and trading post, located about 11 blocks east of the current Magoffin Home.

James Magoffin’s son, Joseph (1837–1923), was born in Chihuahua and educated in Kentucky and Missouri. He first came to the El Paso area in 1856 to work in his father’s mercantile shop at Magoffinsville. After service in the U.S. Civil War, he returned with his family and became an advocate for the development of El Paso and
Most Of The Furnishings Are OriginalMost Of The Furnishings Are OriginalMost Of The Furnishings Are Original

Magoffin Home State Historic Site - El Paso TX
the region.

Joseph built a new home on property he had obtained from his father. When Joseph and his wife, Octavia, moved into their new home in 1877, El Paso was a small frontier town. Using his extensive landholdings, Joseph Magoffin helped bring railroads, utilities and new businesses to town while increasing his personal fortune. He was a co-founder of the State National Bank, where he served as vice president for 40 years. He also served as county judge, four terms as mayor, collector of customs and in numerous other public offices. He and Octavia had two children, Jim (1864–1913) and Josephine (Josie) Magoffin Glasgow (1873–1968).

The Magoffin’s son, Jim, grew up in El Paso and attended school in San Antonio and the University of Notre Dame. Interested in business, Jim was often associated with his father’s activities, including working in the El Paso Customs Office, as a railroad freight agent and in other commercial ventures. In 1897, he married Anne Buford (1875–1962), the daughter of the American Consul in nearby Juarez, Mexico. They and their four children lived in the Magoffin Home at various times. Jim unexpectedly died at age 49 after an appendectomy. Anne and her
As Used By The Magoffin ChildrenAs Used By The Magoffin ChildrenAs Used By The Magoffin Children

Magoffin Home State Historic Site - El Paso TX
children cared for her father-in-law, Joseph, in the home until his death in 1923.

The Magoffins had their daughter, Josephine, shortly before they constructed the Magoffin (State Historic Site) Home. After attending the first public school in El Paso, Josephine continued her education in Washington D.C. and in Europe. She returned in 1891 and became active in the social life of the city. Her marriage to William J. Glasgow in 1896 was described as the most fashionable in El Paso’s history. Glasgow, a graduate of West Point, served with distinction in the Spanish-American War, the Pershing Expedition and World War I, and retired in 1926 with the rank of brigadier general.

Josie and their five children had followed Glasgow from post to post, which influenced two of the boys to attend West Point and to pursue their own military careers. William and Josephine Glagow moved into the Magoffin Home after Joseph’s death and lived there for the next four decades during which time they remodeled the interior, installed gas heat, updated plumbing and electrical service and modernized the kitchen. In 1976, the property was sold to the state of Texas and the city of El Paso, although Joseph's
Note The Sink With Indoor Plumbing In The CornerNote The Sink With Indoor Plumbing In The CornerNote The Sink With Indoor Plumbing In The Corner

Magoffin Home State Historic Site - El Paso TX
granddaughter, Octavia Magoffin Glasgow, retained lifetime tenancy and continued to live in a four room apartment (wing) of the home until her death in 1986.

The Magoffin Home State Historic Site is now part of the Magoffin Historic District and is one of the oldest surviving adobe structures in the area. The Magoffin Home has 19 rooms, 8 fireplaces, and 14-foot ceilings; consists of three wings, each built at a different time; and rests on a 1.5-acre site – a mere fraction of the original ranch. It is El Paso’s only house museum, is a Recorded Texas Historic Landmark and is in the National Register of Historic Places.

Since ownership passed from the original occupants, who lived in the home for more than 100 years, directly to the state and the city, most of the artifacts, including a 13-foot-tall half-canopy bed, are authentic but are supplemented with some period pieces to give a more comprehensive view of what the home looked like in the day. In 1977-1978, the house was restored by an historic preservationist.

Recently, a property across the street from the Magoffin Home was purchased to serve as a visitor center and as office space.
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National Border Patrol Museum - El Paso TX
Heretofore, rooms in the historic structure served those functions and are not open to the public until renovations are made. All tours are guided, and my tour guide (who had xxxteen years of service) was informative, entertaining and knowledgeable. Since the Magoffin Home State Historic Site is El Paso’s only house museum and since an entirely different (affluent Anglo) perspective on El Paso’s history can be garnered from visiting the site, I highly recommend this attraction.

Friday found me with only two attractions, both removed from central El Paso, on the “to do” list. The first was the National Border Patrol Museum. In response to the illegal entry of Chinese aliens into the United States, the Bureau of Commerce and Labor founded a group of 75 men in 1904 to enforce the Chinese Exclusion Acts along our nation's borders. On May 28, 1924, Congress passed the Labor Appropriations Act of 1924, officially establishing the United States Border Patrol with appropriations for 450 Patrol Inspectors. Their purpose was to secure the borders between inspection stations.

The government initially provided the inspectors with a badge and a revolver while recruits furnished their own horse and saddle. Washington provided oats and hay for the horse and an annual salary of $1680 for the inspectors. Uniforms were not issued until December of 1924. In 1925, the duties of the Border Patrol were expanded to patrol the seacoast. During this time, the agency reached its desired manpower level of 450 Patrol Inspectors.

In 1932, the Border Patrol was placed under the authority of two directors, one overseeing the Mexican border (office in El Paso) and the other supervising activities along the Canadian border (office in Detroit MI). The majority of the Border Patrol inspectors at this time were assigned to the northern border. Liquor smuggling was a major concern, and the prohibition era proved the most violent in the history of the Border Patrol. Although horses remained the transportation mode of choice for many years, especially along the southern border, the Border Patrol began using motorized vehicles equipped with radios by 1935.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt consolidated the Bureau of Immigration and the Bureau of Naturalization into the Immigration and Naturalization Service in 1933. The first Border Patrol Academy opened as a training school at Camp Chigas in El Paso in 1934 when thirty-four trainees attended classes in marksmanship, horsemanship, and Morse code.
A Luxury Liner To Smuggle Illegals Across The Rio GrandeA Luxury Liner To Smuggle Illegals Across The Rio GrandeA Luxury Liner To Smuggle Illegals Across The Rio Grande

National Border Patrol Museum - El Paso TX

The workload of the Patrol remained relatively constant until 1940 when the Immigration Service was moved from the Department of Labor to the Department of Justice. An additional 712 inspectors and 57 auxiliary personnel brought the Patrol to over 1,500 officers. During World War II, the Border Patrol manned alien detention camps, guarded diplomats, and assisted the U.S. Coast Guard in searching for Axis saboteurs. Aircraft became an essential part of Border Patrol operations during the 1940s.

In 1952, Border Patrol Agents were first permitted to board and search a conveyance for illegal aliens anywhere in the United States; and, for the first time, illegal aliens traveling within the United States were subject to arrest. During the Cuban Missile Crisis of the early 1960s, the first aircraft hijacking attempts occurred, and President John F. Kennedy ordered the Border Patrol to accompany domestic flights to prevent takeovers.

In 1975, the first female agents were hired, and the 70s saw an increased effort made to hire racial minorities. The 1980s and 1990s saw a tremendous increase of illegal migration to the United States. (Migration is coming to the U.S. for a period of time with intentions of returning whereas immigration is entering with no intention of returning.) The Border Patrol responded with increases in manpower and the implementation of modern technology such as infrared night-vision scopes, seismic sensors, and a modern computer processing system to help locate, apprehend and process those crossing into the U.S. illegally.

In an effort to increase the level of control on the southern border, the El Paso sector established Operation “Hold the Line” in 1993 in which agents and technology were concentrated in specific areas to provide a “show of force” to deter illegal border crossings. It proved to be an immediate success. The drastic reduction in apprehensions prompted the Border Patrol to undertake a similar effort in San Diego CA. Operation ‘Gatekeeper’ was implemented in 1994, and reduced illegal entries by more than 75 percent over the next few years.

Homeland Security became a primary concern of the nation after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. On March 1, 2003, the Border Patrol, along with four other Federal entities, merged into Customs and Border Protection under the Department of Homeland Security. Today, the Border Patrol utilizes contemporary and cutting edge technology secure our nation’s borders. To fulfill its mission, the Border
In Honor Of The FallenIn Honor Of The FallenIn Honor Of The Fallen

National Border Patrol Museum - El Paso TX
Patrol fleet includes sedans, vans, sport utility vehicles, all terrain vehicles, dirt bikes, bikes, planes, helicopters, and unmanned aerial vehicles.

The National Border Patrol Museum has numerous detailed placards outlining the agency’s history as well as several other displays such as conveyances used by illegals attempting to enter the U.S., conveyances and equipment utilized by the Patrol, badges and uniforms as they evolved over the years and the K-9 Corps. One hall honors agents killed in the line of duty. I thoroughly enjoyed my visit, but this attraction is not a “walk through and point” attraction and is most beneficial if the visitor takes the time to read the informational placards.

Wyler Aerial Tramway was built in 1959 to aid the construction of a television transmitter atop Ranger Peak. Karl O. Wyler, who owned the land where the towers and the tram are located and who directed the construction project, fell in love with Ranger Peak and its top-of-the-world view. Wyler strongly believed that the lofty views from atop the peak should be available to the general public. Privately owned and operated first as El Paso Aerial Tramway, the facility allowed public access from 1960 to 1986. Although it continued
Up, Up And Away!Up, Up And Away!Up, Up And Away!

Wyler Aerial Tramway - El Paso TX
to provide access for maintenance of telecommunications equipment, high liability insurance costs caused the tramway to close to the public for some 15 years. Philanthropist Wyler donated the tramway to the State of Texas in 1997 in his final will.

Following extensive renovation, the tram opened it to the public in 2001. Each of two tramway cars operates on a 2,400-foot-long single-span cable system – meaning that there are no support towers along its nearly half-mile length. Quite an engineering feat! From bottom to top, visitors are lifted some 940 vertical feet as they glide high above the rugged terrain below. Swiss-made gondolas carry tramway passengers in opposite directions – one upward and the other, simultaneously, downward. The tram is nice and worthwhile, but the views are – well, let’s be nice and say the Franklin Mountains are not the Rockies.

While I was at the Visitor Center on Wednesday, I had inquired about murals. There are hundreds of murals in El Paso (that’s probably why there is no comprehensive guide), but the young lady did get me a pamphlet entitled “The Murals of Lincoln Park: A Chicano Art Experience.” Following my standard SOP, I headed for the mural location on Sunday morning, March 15, 2015.

This collection of murals is unique in that the art beautifies a few dozen freeway overpass support pillars. In 1983, the director of the Lincoln Center asked a Chicano (Mexican/American) artist to paint a mural on a pillar under the “Spaghetti Bowl” freeway interchange near Lincoln Center. He had been involved in the painting of murals at Chicano Park in San Diego and was hoping to replicate that effort in El Paso. He had hoped to paint additional murals on the freeway columns but due to a lack of funding he could not paint more. It would not be until 1999, when other artists would promote and contribute to the project, that more murals were added.

In 2010, Partners-in-Parks (a Neighborhood Association) came into existence and made it possible to sponsor four events a year: Cesar Chavez Day in March, Lincoln Park Day in September, Día de los Muertos in November and Día de La Virgen de Guadalupe in December. Proceeds generated from these events are used to offset the expenses of organizing the events, for beautification of the park and for the painting of additional murals by other area artists.

Also in 2010, the Lincoln Park
Some Of The Murals Are MacabreSome Of The Murals Are MacabreSome Of The Murals Are Macabre

The Murals of Lincoln Park - El Paso TX
Conservation Committee, in collaboration with the El Paso Convention and Visitors Bureau, printed 10,000 full color brochures to promote the murals and the park. In that regard, the effort was successful – it brought this tourist to the mural site; however, the brochure merely cites the mural title, year, artist and sponsor.

Since the brochure has limited space available for each of the almost 100 potential works, I’m okay with that but was hungry for more and went to the Lincoln Park Conservation Committee web site for additional information/insight into the murals’ content. I found only a series of photographs of the brochure itself – THAT, I already had at my disposal! I found the murals interesting but (without additional insight) am now quite bewildered. For that reason, when coupled with the lack of tranquility below a freeway interchange, I cannot recommend the attraction except for the pure artistic value.

My next stop found me driving back to San Elizario for the monthly San Elizario Historic District Art Market. I was not in the market for art, but thought there might be some good entertainment and some good FOOD! I’m always in the market for some new, unusual delicacy. Besides, there was a jailbreak reenactment on the agenda.

According to legend, Billy the Kid traveled to San Elizario from Las Cruces NM after learning that his friend had been arrested. He arrived at about 3 AM and, posing as a Texas Ranger, knocked on the door of the jail. After awakening the Mexican guard, Billy said he had two American prisoners. When the guard opened the door, he found himself eye to eye with Billy’s .44 revolver. Billy quickly relieved the guard of his guns, helped his friend out of the cell, locked the guard in the jail and threw away the key. Billy the Kid and his friend crossed the Rio Grande into Mexico which, at that time, was only two and a half miles from San Elizario.

Two reenactments were scheduled, and I was there in time for the first show. A couple of gunshots signaled the start and directed the audience’s attention towards the location of the action. Soon, the sheriff and a deputy appeared with their prisoner in tow. Momentarily, Billy the Kid appeared with his sidekick, and the scene unfolded as cited above. The drama lasted a mere 2-3 minutes but
Murals Saturate The El Paso AreaMurals Saturate The El Paso AreaMurals Saturate The El Paso Area

San Elizario Historic District Art Market - San Elizario TX
was entertaining.

I wandered around town, visited the small museum that is operated by the San Elizario Genealogy & Historical Society, took a few photographs and headed for the RV park. Unfortunately, this event is reminiscent of a good excuse for a cadre of locals to gather and socialize and to draw visitors to local “off-the-beaten-path“ businesses than it is a bona fide festival. Although some businesses had outside tables readied for vending, I saw no freelance merchandise or food vendors.

The Wild West didn’t come much wilder than El Paso, which was visited by such legendary characters as Pat Garrett, Wyatt Earp and the famous Mexican freedom fighter Pancho Villa as well as Billy the Kid. One thing is for sure – El Paso has a long and storied past. One other little-known fact about El Paso is that the Margarita was invented here. Now, tell me, what would an enchilada plate in New York be without one of the most iconic cocktails in history?



There is a lot more to do in this animated city than I initially anticipated. I don’t believe El Paso leaders think of it, and adequately promote it, as
Veterans Wing Honors All Veterans, Particularly Local KIA, MIA And POWVeterans Wing Honors All Veterans, Particularly Local KIA, MIA And POWVeterans Wing Honors All Veterans, Particularly Local KIA, MIA And POW

San Elizario Historic District Art Market - San Elizario TX
a “tourist destination,” and by most definitions it is not; however, given its oasis-like isolation, it is a good place to stop between San Antonio and Tucson and to spend a couple of days taking in some of the area’s awesome history, great Mexican food and vibrant culture.


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The Sheriff’s OfficeThe Sheriff’s Office
The Sheriff’s Office

San Elizario Historic District Art Market - San Elizario TX
Billy The Kid Stands Outside The Museum Building – The Jail Is At The Far EndBilly The Kid Stands Outside The Museum Building – The Jail Is At The Far End
Billy The Kid Stands Outside The Museum Building – The Jail Is At The Far End

San Elizario Historic District Art Market - San Elizario TX
Off To The Pokey For The Prisoner!Off To The Pokey For The Prisoner!
Off To The Pokey For The Prisoner!

San Elizario Historic District Art Market - San Elizario TX
“Texas Ranger” Billy The Kid With His “Prisoner”“Texas Ranger” Billy The Kid With His “Prisoner”
“Texas Ranger” Billy The Kid With His “Prisoner”

San Elizario Historic District Art Market - San Elizario TX
Making Good The GetawayMaking Good The Getaway
Making Good The Getaway

San Elizario Historic District Art Market - San Elizario TX


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