1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/El Paso

EL PASO, a city, port of entry, and the county-seat of El Paso county, Texas, U.S.A., on the E. bank of the Rio Grande, in the extreme W. part of the state, at an altitude of 3710 ft. Pop. (1880) 736; (1890) 10,338; (1900) 15,906, of whom 6309 were foreign-born and 466 were negroes; (1910 census) 39,279. Many of the inhabitants are of Mexican descent. El Paso is an important railway centre and is served by the following railways: the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fé, of which it is the S. terminus; the El Paso & South-Western, which connects with the Chicago, Rock Island & El Paso (of the Rock Island system); the Galveston, Harrisburg & San Antonio, of which it is the W. terminus; the Mexican Central, of which it is the N. terminus; the Texas & Pacific, of which it is the W. terminus; a branch of the Southern Pacific, of which it is the E. terminus; and the short Rio Grande, Sierra Madre & Pacific, of which it is the N. terminus. The city is regularly laid out on level bottom lands, stretching to the table-lands and slopes to the N.E. and N.W. of the city. Opposite, on the W. bank of the river, is the Mexican town of Ciudad Juarez (until 1885 known as Paso del Norte), with which El Paso is connected by bridges and by electric railway. The climate is mild, warm and dry, El Paso being well known as a health resort, particularly for sufferers from pulmonary complaints. Among the city’s public buildings are a handsome Federal building, a county court house, a city hall, a Y.M.C.A. building, a public library, a sanatorium for consumptives, and the Hotel Dieu, a hospital maintained by Roman Catholics. El Paso is the seat of St Joseph’s Academy and of the El Paso Military Institute. Three miles E. of the city limits is Fort Bliss, a U.S. military post, with a reservation of about 2 sq. m. El Paso’s situation on the Mexican frontier gives it a large trade with Mexico; it is the port of entry of the Paso del Norte customs district, one of the larger Mexican border districts, and in 1908 its imports were valued at $2,677,784 and its exports at $5,661,901. Wheat, boots and shoes, mining machinery, cement, lime, lumber, beer, and denatured alcohol are among the varied exports; the principal imports are ore, sugar, cigars, oranges, drawn work and Mexican curios. El Paso has extensive manufactories, especially railway car shops, which in 1905 employed 34.5% of the factory wage-earners. Just outside the city limits are important lead smelting works, to which are brought ores for treatment from western Texas, northern Mexico, New Mexico and Arizona. Among the city’s manufactures are cement, denatured alcohol, ether, varnish, clothing and canned goods. The value of the city’s total factory product in 1905 was $2,377,813, 96% greater than that in 1900. El Paso lies in a fertile agricultural valley, and in 1908 the erection of an immense dam was begun near Engle, New Mexico (100 m. above El Paso), by the U.S. government, to store the flood waters of the Rio Grande for irrigating this area. Before the Mexican War, following which the first United States settlement was made, the site of El Paso was known as Ponce de Leon Ranch, the land being owned by the Ponce de Leon family. El Paso was first chartered as a city in 1873, and in 1907 adopted the commission form of government.