Tuesday, February 2, 2016

El Paso, TX - Chamizal National Memorial

After spending 3 months in AZ, most of which was volunteering at Sabino Canyon in Tucson, we are now pointed toward Florida for Detroit Tigers spring training in Lakeland and the Frozen Four which will be in Tampa this year. We'll see sites and visit friends along the way. Come April we'll head north before coming back west. So, we're off on another long trip.

Our first stop was El Paso. We decided to spend a day to break up the drive to Big Bend National Park and to see a few historic sites that seemed interesting. The day we had planned to see sites had winds over 30 miles an hour, rain and even snow for about an hour. It was ugly. So, I called the near by Ford dealer and got in for an oil change. Good use of crappy weather. The next day was still a wind advisory so we decided not to continue our journey and instead (since it was sunny) to see the El Paso historic sites.

First thing was to see a few missions originally established in the 1680's. They were actually
Ysleta Mission
established on consecutive days and are the two oldest continuously active parishes in the state of Texas. The original buildings have both been wiped out by the Rio Grande River as it decided to change course in the wide, relatively flat, valley. The rebuilds are still old and interesting to see.

Socorro Mission
The first mission we stopped at was Ysleta Mission. It was actually closed for restoration so we were not able to go inside or find out any detailed info other that what we could find on-line. The second was the Socorro Mission a couple of miles down the road which we were able to go into. The current structure has been restored and well maintained for good viewing. They have a fun story about their patron saint so click on the link to read some detail on the mission.

Socorro Mission
After the missions we visited the Chamizal National Memorial (the peace park). This memorial celebrates the 1963 peaceful settlement of a boundary dispute between Mexico and the United States. After more than a century of arguing about who owned the land along the ever-meandering international border formed by the Rio Grande river, the question was finally settled by the signing of the Chamizal Convention. At great cost to both countries and the local residents, the river channel between El Paso and Ciudad Juarez was relocated and fixed in place with a concrete lining.

We finished up our day trip with an attempt at doing the walking tour of the downtown historic district. Note that there were 25-35 mile an hour winds that day and sometimes the buildings were a good wind block and other times they caused an awful wind tunnel. We did most of the tour and finally gave up.

 Hotel Paso Del Norte - 1912

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