Heritage, Volume 04, Number 03, Winter 1986

t

SKIP CLARK C, 86
The facade of the Ysleta Mission, Our Lady of
Mount Carmel, shows recent refurbishing by
local parishioners. The mission serves the Tigua
tribe, descendants of the refugees from the
Pueblo Revolt in northern New Mexico in 1680,
as well as other local citizens.

well for wood but do not allow adobe to
"breathe" and hence trap destructive
moisture within the walls, postponing,
not arresting, the decay. The roof is in
good repair, but exterior wall cracks and
sagging stained glass windows need immediate
attention. A few hundred yards
from the church is the first El Paso County
jail, from which Billy the Kid is reputed
to have freed his buddy, Melquiades
Segura, after a fabulous ride from Mesilla,
New Mexico-a ride that eclipsed any of
the relay rides of the Pony Express, and
done on only one horse!

Restoration is planned for both the
church and jail, incuding a visitor center
at the latter for greater appreciation of
Valley history and to attract and inform
tourists. Currently the El Paso Sesquicentennial's
Mission Trail Executive Committee
is spearheading activity, with a
host of projects under way. Uppermost is
the awakening of public interest to the
oldest historical site in the state of Texas,
containing not only over 500 historic
buildings, but prime examples of a Spanish
Period mission (Socorro), a Spanish
The San Elizardo church, founded in the 1700s
as a chapel for Presidio soldiers, continues to
serve the farming community in the 1980s. A
part of the El Paso Mission Trail Program, it
suffers from fallen plaster, sagging stained glass
windows, and general deterioration due to age.

JOHN WEST 86
Nuestra Senora de la Purisima, the treaure of
Socorro, Texas, looking out over the fields, newly
restored to duty in the parish that was founded in
1680-one of the two oldest missions in Texas.
town plat (San Elizario), and the oldest
active parish in the state (Ysleta, with its
Tigua Reservation).
The key to the success of the El Paso
Mission Trail Program has been cooperation-church,
diocese, local organizations,
and private citizens. Local groups,
working with elected state officials, were
largely responsible for a state law allowing
historic districting, which city and
county officials also have pursued, bringing
a measure of control over urban clutter
and haphazard destruction of historic
structures. Such cooperation, bringing as
many people as possible into the process,
provides excellent educational exposure
as well. School projects have stimulated
participation by the youth of the area.
Students at one school, Sageland Elementary
of Ysleta, have raised $4,000 for
the Mission Trail restorations with cake
and candy sales and other fundraising
activities.
Speeches and slide presentations to
civic groups, together with appeals to
foundations and state preservation organizations,
have gone a long way toward
providing the funds needed for the restoration
and preservation of El Paso's Mission
Trail-but the spark of caring individuals
lies at the heart of the flame.
John O. West is a professor of English at the
University of Texas at El Paso.
23

1.
I

Texas Historical Foundation. Heritage, Volume 04, Number 03, Winter 1986. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth45440/. Accessed December 18, 2014.