The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 74, July 1970 - April, 1971 Page: 357
Notes and Documents
El Paso-from War to Depression
C. L. SONNICHSEN AND M. G. MCKINNEY*
THE TWELVE YEARS FROM 1917 TO 1929 WERE EXCITING AND SOME-
times trying times in West Texas. El Paso, the metropolis of the
United States-Mexican border, was already out of its frontier period,
rapidly developing into a modern American city, but its perils were
by no means past. World War I was a soul-shaking experience. Soon
after it was over, Pancho Villa and his men attacked the carrancista
troops in Juirez and created a serious border incident. In the early
twenties prohibition became the great problem, resulting in rum
running and dope smuggling. These abuses brought out the Ku Klux
Klan in such numbers as almost to win control of the town. Every
three or four years some new crisis made the headlines-the recession
of 1921; the disastrous flood of 1925; the Escobar revolt against the
new revolutionary government of Mexico in 1929; or the burning of
the Sheldon Hotel in the same year. The stockmarket crash of 1929
brought the twenties to a disastrous conclusion.
Some good news, naturally, was mingled with the bad. The Scenic
Drive around the point of Mount Franklin was completed in 192o,
fulfilling a dream of many years. The Orndorff Hotel, finest in West
Texas, was completed in 1926. The Municipal Airport became a
reality in 1928. And the town never stopped growing. Taking the
good with the bad, it was a strenuous decade.
The twenties were born of war. The first drum taps were heard in
the summer of 1914 when Archduke Ferdinand died and the Euro-
pean powder keg exploded. While the British and French struggled to
hold back the German flood, Woodrow Wilson kept the United States
out of war. Then came the winter of 1917. On January 1 Germany
began unrestricted submarine warfare. In certain zones all ships would
*C. L. Sonnichsen, who wrote the essay, is H. Y. Benedict Professor of English at the
University of Texas, El Paso. He has written extensively on the history, folklore, and
literature of the Southwest. M. G. McKinney, commander, USN, Ret., put together the
picture section. He is a specialist in the military history of the El Paso area with empha-
sis on the photographic record.
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 74, July 1970 - April, 1971, periodical, 1971; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101200/m1/369/ocr/: accessed June 26, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.