El Paso is a famous metropolitan city in Texas. It has a rich culture and a long history since the 1800s.
It’s a border city with a very strong Hispanic culture. But, it’s also got a very fascinating wild west history that’s sure to attract some tourists.
Below are some of the things that make El Paso a famous city in the world.
What is El Paso Known For?
1. Billy the Kid Jail Break-In
Billy the Kid was an outlaw in the late 1800s. He was responsible for the death of at least eight men before he was also gunned down.
The jail in the Old El Paso County Jail Museum is famous because Billy the Kid broke in. As legend would have it, Billy traveled to San Elizario to save his friend, Melquiades Segura.
Billy arrived at three in the morning and posted as a Texas Ranger.
Because of this deceit, Billy managed to point a gun at the guard’s head, get the keys, release his friend, and lock up the guards.
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2. El Paso Salt War
The El Paso Salt War is also known as the San Elizario Salt War. Some people call it the Salinero Revolt.
It was a complex war in the mid-19th century, and the people who were involved were fighting for the ownership of the big salt lakes in the Guadalupe Mountains.
The war happened in 1877, but the conflict began as early as a decade before that in 1866. The war was between Anglo Texan politicians and some capitalists.
The war started as a small quarrel. However, it grew, and both the Texas and federal governments got involved. The war lasted for 12 years but only 30 men died.
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3. Boot Capital of the World
El Paso has a long tradition of wearing boots, considering that the major ethnicity here comes from Mexican lineage. The boot came into existence from people of the past who herded cattle.
Today, the boot is an iconic fashion statement—it is expensive, and it is not unusual to see a pair on the feet of a celebrity like Taylor Swift.
Most country singers also wear boot as a statement of their musical genre, which is the Old West.
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4. The First Thanksgiving
The first Thanksgiving that happened in North America occurred in El Paso on April 30, 1598. Or, that is what people from El Paso claim.
The modern Thanksgiving was first observed in April of 1989. However, historians trace this back to the ancient times, and the modern event is in commemoration of the Spanish explorer Juan de Oñate.
He explored Texas and was granted land by the King of Spain among the Pueblo Indians that resided in the area.
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5. The Bath Riots
El Paso is famous for the Bath Riots that happened on January 28, 1917. One teenager named Carmelita Torres refused to take a toxic disinfectant bath.
By the afternoon, several thousand people supported her and demonstrated at the border bridge between El Paso and Juarez.
Carmelita was a Mexican who crossed the border the work. At that time, crossing the border was not illegal. However, the US mandated a bath for people coming from Mexico to prevent the spread of typhus.
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6. Battle of Ciudad Juarez
The Battle of Ciudad Juarez happened in 1911 when federal forces loyal to a leader, Porfirio Diaz, fought against rebels loyal to Francisco Madero. This battle happened during the Mexican Revolution.
Ciudad Juarez fell to the hands of Madero. As a result, the battle culminated to the Treaty of Ciudad Juarez. Diaz retreated to France and remained there as an exile.
This battle marked the initial end of the Mexican Revolution against the dictatorship of Porfirio Diaz. The Mexican Revolution, however, lasted until 1920.
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7. The Wild West Era
El Paso is what comes to mind when one thinks of the Old West where towns have gunslingers and horse-riding cowboys.
Its cultural significance is so great that today, there is an institution called Wild West Town, a replica of what life used to be in the 1800s.
In 1891, there were only about 10,000 people who lived in El Paso. Some were capitalists who owned saloons and banks. Nevertheless, downtown El Paso was teeming with business and the classic ranchers and cowboys who settled disputes with violence.
8. Eddie Guerrero
Eddie Guerrero was a famous wrestler who was born in El Paso. He was catapulted to fame in what is now known as the World Wrestling Entertainment or WWE.
His mantra was “lie, cheat, and steal.” It was not his personal mantra, but that of his character as a wrestler. Eddie died in a hotel room in Minneapolis. He was 38 when he died in 2005, and the autopsy revealed that he died of acute heart failure.
Eddie received a posthumous award, the Star of the Mountain Award, from El Paso. It is a recognition for the pride that he brought to his hometown.
9. The Only Border Patrol Museum
El Paso is home to the only museum that keeps artifacts for the National Border Patrol. The museum is devoted to aliens, but not the intergalactic kind.
Border Patrol retirees founded the museum, and it runs without government support.
All the exhibits here are homemade, and visitors can easily see that the materials used are also common, such as thumb tacks and yellowing scotch tape.
Overall, the museum shows its visitors that the National Border Patrol keeps its duty to keep unwanted or illegal aliens away from the country.
10. The Star on the Mountain
This star is man-made and as put on the Franklin Mountains in El Paso as a symbol. The landmark represents that America was at peace in Christmas season.
It was a reminder to both Mexicans and Americans.
The Star was put there in 1940, and it has 459 bulbs. The star is so huge that one can see it from the air 100 miles above. For a time, the government only lit it during the holiday. Today, it is on the entire year.
11. Military Presence
Fort Bliss is the most popular military base in El Paso, and it is home to almost 40,000 active personnel.
El Paso is the kind of city that one typically sees in movies where there are army trucks when doomsday has come.
The military base occupies 1.12 million acres of land in the entirety of Texas and New Mexico, so the Fort Bliss in El Paso is just a small part of the institution.
Originally established in 1848, Fort Bliss was named in honor of Lieutenant Colonel William Wallace Smith Bliss.
12. Paso del Norte International Bridge
This bridge is famous because it connects two countries. Constructed in 1967, it crossed the Rio Grande River.
It is the world’s largest international bridge and border complex, and it has three international ports of entry.
The bridge is a significant icon because it represents the relationship between the US and Mexico—a relationship that spans hundreds of years.
13. Biggs Army Airfield
The Biggs Army Airfield is famous because at a time, it was the world’s largest airfield. It was used as arefueling station for the Shuttle Carrier Aircraft of NASA.
In 1942, the airfield was the headquarters of the Twentieth Bomber Command. Today, it is a support for Fort Bliss. Its purpose is to support the interception of suspected transnational threats.
By 2017, the government erected a new air traffic control tower in the field.
14. El Paso Museum of Archaeology
This museum is famous because it offers a glimpse of Native American history in the area. There are dioramas that depict early life, including that of the Casas Grandes and Jornada Mogollon.
In the museum, one can see pottery that belongs to the prehistoric era, and then there is a garden that spans 15 acres. There are more than 200 species of plants in the garden, all of which represent the flora in the Chihuahuan desert.
The museum has been in operation for 14 years, and it offers some 14,000 years of history, culture, and artifacts. The artifacts here are valued at #2 million.
15. El Paso Historic Mission Trail
This mission trail is nine miles long. It is named after the three missions that go back to the 17th century.
These missions are:
- Ysleta Mission
- Socorro Mission
- San Elizario Chapel
These are all old churches, and they are the oldest in the state. Until today, the churches are active, and people congregate to attend mass.
Apart from religious activities, these missions also have museums. One can also find galleries and restaurants.
The trail is famous because it is 400 years old. They represent the faith of the Spanish and Indian ancestors of the people of El Paso. The architecture of the churches represents the culture and politics of the town when it was at its early stages.
El Paso has been around for roughly 200 years. Also called the City of the Sun, it is famous not only for the things discussed in this article but for the great outdoors it has to offer. It has 302 days of great sunshine, and the city is home to excellent Tex-Mex cuisine.
Jason Dempsey is the CEO and Co-Founder of Home City Living. After abandoning the corporate world in order to indulge his wanderlust, Jason founded Home City Living with his partner Rose to create the premier source of travel information and inside local knowledge on the web to help other would-be global explorers and seekers learn to spread their wings and fly.