Guadalupe Mountains National Park at sunset from Salt Flat. The salt in this area is a remnant of an ancient shallow lake, and was important to native peoples as a sacred element, and was used in the tanning of hides, as a condiment and as a preservative. It was collected by the explorers and settlers in the area.
The National Park's website has a great page on the El Paso Salt War. Highlights from that page:
"Mexicans and Mexican Americans from the El Paso Valley communities
would make a 70 mile, two day journey from San Elizario to the salt
beds. The salt would then be transported by mule drawn wagons south to
Chihuahua and Sonora, where it was an important trade item. In addition
to traditional uses, in Chihuahua the salt was used in the smelting of
"Prior to 1848, the salt beds, under Spanish law, were common land not
owned by any one individual. After 1848, under American law, these were
unclaimed lands, available to anyone who filed there. The Mexicans,
believing that everybody had the right to the salt, never thought to
file claims to the salt beds in the name of any one individual or group."
"The El Paso Salt War began in the late 1860’s as a struggle between El
Paso businessmen W.W. Mills, Albert J. Fountain, and Louis Cardis in an
attempt to acquire title to the salt deposits near the base of the
Guadalupe Mountains. Mexican Americans of the valley communities, who
had for years collected salt there for free, were now faced with the
threat of being charged salt collection fees."
"In September 1877, Howard started a riot when he arrested two San
Elizario residents who attempted to go for salt. An angry mob captured
and held Howard for three days at San Elizario. He finally gained his
freedom by vowing to give up claim to the salt beds and leave the
country. He retreated to Mesilla, New Mexico, but quickly returned to
murder Cardis in an El Paso store. Angry Mexicans demanded Howard’s
arrest. Howard was arraigned for Cardis’ murder and placed under bond to
appear in court in March."
For the rest of the story, click here!
Thanks again to Drew Stuart, Texas Mountain Trail board member and editor of the Hudspeth County Herald and Dell Valley Review. We've enjoyed your photos all week!