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El Paso History

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History

El Paso County Historical Society

  • For millennia Indians traversed the El Paso area.
  • The first Europeans through the Pass of the North came in 1581.
  • In 1598 the Juan de Oñate expedition celebrated the first Thanksgiving on United States' soil.
  • The Pueblo Revolt in New Mexico in 1680 forced Spanish settlers back south of the Rio Grande. Many settled along the river at the Pass of the North, primarily on the south side of the river.
  • For the next few centuries the Spanish settlements along the border flourished. Missions were founded at Ysleta, Socorro and San Elizario. The economy was agriculture, mining and transportation. The El Paso area was an important stop on the Camino Real that served the Santa Fe Trail and the interior of Mexico. The Rio Grande changed course a number of times.
  • El Paso officially became part of the United States when Texas joined the Union in 1845.
  • The Mexican War of 1846 assured the settlements on the north side of the Rio Grande to be part of the United States.
  • The first military post was established along the American side of the river in 1849 in order to protect the route to the gold fields farther west. Ft. Bliss had several locations before expanding into its permanent location and becoming a major training and missile defense center.
  • Sides were taken during the Civil War, but the War did not have major impact in the El Paso area. The growing town recovered quickly.
  • El Paso was originally known as Franklin. It was incorporated in 1873 and encompassed the small area communities that had developed along the river (Magoffinsville, Concordia, Hart's Mill).
  • In 1881 the railroad arrived. Business expanded rapidly, and today's modern city developed.
  • Control of the Rio Grande was begun with the building of dams upstream and channelization.
  • In 1913 the College of Mines, now The University of Texas at El Paso, was chartered by the State of Texas.
  • The Chamizal Agreement that verified the boundary and the exact course of the Rio Grande through the city was signed in 1967.
  • The Franklin Mountain State Park was created in 1979. It is the largest urban park in the United States and features exceptional geologic history and the highest structural point in Texas.

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