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El Paso, Texas


El Paso. Inhabited by various Indian tribes prior to the arrival of the Spaniards in the 16th century, El Paso has played an important role in the history of Mexico and the United States. Its four centuries of recorded history span periods of Spanish colonization, Mexican rule, and Anglo railroad building and industrialization. Early settlements were established on the south side of the Rio Grande at El Paso del Norte (the pass of the north). After the Rio Grande became a boundary between the United States and Mexico, a settlement called Franklin grew up on the north side of the river and eventually took the name El Paso. The original El Paso del Norte settlement on the south side became Ciudad Juarez. The establishment of Fort Bliss in 1854, the arrival of the Butterfield Overland Mail route in 1858, and the building of the railroads in the 1880s brought an economic boom and increased population. The flourishing frontier community became the seat of El Paso county government in 1883. Its proximity to mining areas in northern Mexico, New Mexico, and Arizona, combined with its geographic location on the international border made El Paso a multi-cultural, multifaceted city unique among Texas communities. - Historical Marker text, 1991.

El Paso History 1922. The city of El Paso is the subject of some historical confusion, owing to a singular transposition of names. While the English colonies in America were yet in their infancy, El Paso del Norte, on the south bank of the Rio Grande, was an important town, and at the time of the Texas Revolution it had a population of several thousand. At that time the present site of the city of El Paso, on the north bank of the Rio Grande, contained only the imposing hacienda of Juan Maria Ponce de Leon.

Following the Mexican war the settlement on the north bank became a principal relay station on the Overland Mail Route, and a small settlement grew up under the name of Franklin, named for the first postmaster, Franklin Coons.

Late in the fifties the far-seeing statesmanship of Jefferson Davis, then Secretary of War, projected the line of the first transcontinental railroad through "The Pass." Roused by this action, the owners of the "Ponce Grant" mapped the nucleus of the future city through the agency of a young engineer, Anson Mills, since distinguished as a soldier and a diplomat, who gave to the plat the name of El Paso. Continue Reading El Paso History Written in 1922 >>

City Histories

The City and county of El Paso, Texas : containing useful and reliable information concerning the future great metropolis of the Southwest ... 1886, El Paso Bureau of Information. Digital book online from archive.org.

El Paso: A Borderlands History, 1990, by W. H. Timmons.

Souvenir of the city of El Paso, Texas. Photo-gravures.  Digital book online at archive.org.

The El Paso Salt War, 1877, published in 1957 by Charles Leland Sonnichsen. Digital book on line at archive.org.

Forty years at El Paso, 1858-1898; recollections of war, politics, adventure, events, narratives, sketches, etc., 1901 by W. W. Mills  Digital book online at The Portal to Texas History.


El Paso, TX 31° 45' 31.392" N, 106° 29' 12.9516" W