The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 63, July 1959 - April, 1960 Page: 237

The Texas-New Mexico Boundary Dispute

L. M. Crawford filed a suit in the Texas District Court against
Z. T. White and nine other defendants on January 25, 1928.
Crawford alleged that the Supreme Court decision had fixed the
boundary line as of September 9, 1850, but that the line had
subsequently moved eastward by accretion. He asserted that as
the owner of the adjoining lands, he had acquired all lands lying
west of the river in the Country Club bend area under the doc-
trine of accretion. The trial court instructed a verdict in favor
of the defendants on the grounds that this precise issue had pre-
viously been adjudicated by the United States Supreme Court.46
The Eighth Court of Civil Appeals affirmed the trial court's
decision and held that the Texas-New Mexico boundary was a
fixed line and that the title to the lands adjoining the Rio Grande
was not affected by the doctrine of accretion and avulsion.4Y
The Rio Grande ran east of the present U. S. Highway 8oA on
September 9, 185o, in the vicinity of the 3600 block of Doniphan
Drive. The Texas-New Mexico boundary, being a fixed line, left
the small tract of New Mexico land lying east of the highway
when the Rio Grande subsequently shifted its bed. This small
intrusion by New Mexico into Texas with its accompanying high-
way signs and cocktail lounges is about the only visible evidence
calling attention to this unusual fixed river boundary line. This
tract is primarily utilized for the sale of mixed drinks which is
illegal in Texas.
Here is an unusual case from the records of state and federal
courts. The net effect of this strange decision was that the forces
of nature are, in effect, declared subject to man's jurisdiction.
One is dealing with a legal fiction when he considers the Court's
statement that the proper legal boundary between Texas and
New Mexico is a fixed line and, in addition, that the fixed line
is the channel of the Rio Grande. Under the decision of the Court,
the river may, and had, moved physically, but not legally. Seen
through the eyes of the Court, the Rio Grande must eternally
flow through its channel of 1850o.
Parallel of 3r Degrees 4x Minutes North Latitude-Latter Parallel Being the Inter-
national Boundary Line between the United States and Mexico (El Paso, 1930), 25*
4aL. M. Crawford vs. Z. T. White, et al. (MSS., 41st Judicial District Court, El
Paso, Texas), Cause No. P2901.
47Crawford vs. White, Southwestern Reporter, XXV, 629.


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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 63, July 1959 - April, 1960, periodical, 1960; Austin, Texas. ( accessed November 16, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History,; crediting Texas State Historical Association.

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