The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 63, July 1959 - April, 1960

rhe reas-rA)tw Aexico Aouldary
Dispute Alo9 the Kio Grade
J. J. BOWDEN
BY ORDER of the nation's highest court, El Paso's Doniphan
Drive leaves the state of Texas, proceeds through New
Mexico for almost five hundred yards, and then re-enters
Texas. There is no visible explanation for this unique intrusion,
not even a curve in the road. The Texas-New Mexico boundary
dispute along the Rio Grande, which is evidenced by this unusual
situation, reached its climax in a decision rendered by the United
States Supreme Court in December, 1927. The Court declared
that the common boundary between Texas and New Mexico
between 32 and 31047' north latitude was a fixed line located in
the channel of the Rio Grande as it ran on September 9, 1850.
The location of jurisdictional boundaries has played an impor-
tant role in the history of the El Paso area. More than three
hundred and fifty years of history are embraced in the background
of the Texas-New Mexico boundary dispute. This controversy
arose through the absence of well-defined boundaries separating
the various Spanish, Mexican, and American political subdivi-
sions exercising jurisdiction over the El Paso area.
Don Juan de Ofiate was granted a concession by the viceroy
of New Spain on August 24, 1595, for the colonization of New
Mexico. The establishment of the province of New Mexico in
1598 cut off the indefinite northern jurisdiction of Nueva Vizcaya,
but the location of the boundary line between the two provinces
was not specified in the contract. The colonies established by
Ofiate served to push the hostile Indians farther north and formed
a buffer zone between the savages and the interior settlements.
In order for the New Mexican colonies to grow and prosper,
the Camino Real, which linked Santa Fe with Chihuahua and the
interior, had to be maintained. To protect this vital line of com-
munication, the New Mexico authorities established a settlement

Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 63, July 1959 - April, 1960. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101186/. Accessed August 20, 2014.