Sunday, February 12, 2012

Guadalupe Mountains at Sunset from Salt Flat

Today, another lovely photo of the 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 silver."

"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!

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