Tuesday, April 02, 2013

Arriving at Gate B6, El Paso Airport

Click on the image for a closer view
Travelers arriving at Gate B6 in El Paso's (wonderful) airport will now see this!  Our friends at the El Paso County Historical Commission worked with Southwest Airlines to add this reproduction of an image of early El Paso to the airport!  (Shown is an enlarged reproduction of a painting in the collection of the El Paso Museum of Art!)

About the image:

"In this very detailed painting by the French artist, Leon Trousset, we see a panoramic scene of the early El Paso, Texas of 1885. This scene is looking north from across the river in Mexico. At the background, we see the finality of the Rocky Mountains as they were before the current radio towers, the faded high school letters, and the magnificent homes that we see today. Beneath these mountains was a dynamic small town straining to expand to its geographical limits. On the far left, Fort Bliss welcomed travelers from the west to a picturesque valley of social activity and very productive farms and ranches. By 1885, El Paso was well established with its great hotels, banks, restaurants, a Central school, city and county buildings, and various social and entertainment centers.

In 1881, the railroads had come into town and awakened a progress that has not stopped to this day. A railway line had been built across the river to facilitate international commerce between El Paso and its sister city to the south. The railway company discouraged pedestrians from crossing over the railway bridge by placing sharp spikes on the bridge. An interesting point on this painting is the river (Rio Grande) at the lower center. Looking closely, you can see some people crossing this river in a canoe. The Rio Grande was the international boundary between El Paso and its neighboring town of El Paso del Norte (Ciudad Juarez).

On the foreground you can see a well-to-do gentleman on a horse speaking to another man. As they point north, they seem to be referring to some concern from across the river. There may very well be a story behind this scene. A local Mexican farmer named Pedro Ignacio Garcia had a special interest in the property on the north side of the river. In 1866, Mr. Garcia inherited some land in that precise area. He claimed that due to a flood in 1864, the river channel changed and that his land was left to the north by that change. He was in peaceful possession and was farming his land until 1881 when the railroad moved in. He explained that one day, he went to survey his crops which relate to the green stalks seen just north of the river. “I tied my horse to one of the trees by the river and got into the canoe and crossed the river”. As he surveyed his crops, he was approached by three “Texans” who at the point of a shotgun, ordered him to “leave and to never come back”. From on top of his horse, Mr. Garcia seems to be asking the other gentleman, possibly his farm manager, Juan Acosta, if he knows of any further developments or incursions on his land across the river. He received many other threats which prompted him to file a claim against the United States for his property across the river. This initiated the century long international dispute known as the Chamizal Issue which was finally settled in 1963 with the Chamizal Treaty." 

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