The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 103, July 1999 - April, 2000 Page: 381
its several hundred residents were economically, and politically marginalized.
The extent of its marginalization peaked in 1950 when Mexico (and the United
States) decided that the town could be sacrificed as part an international effort
to share hydraulic resources. Construction of the Falc6n Dam resulted in the
inundation of much of the town, once its residents had been relocated to Nueva
Ciudad Guerrero-a singularly uninspiring place if ever there was one. Today,
however, and in part due to the prolonged drought over northern Mexico, the
reservoir has receded to the point where Guerrero Viejo is no longer sub-
merged. People are returning, a few to stay, most to visit. I've been there twice,
once encountering at the sediment-filled school a man from San Antonio,
Texas, who was showing his grandchildren where he learned to read and write.
To say the least, a walk through the recently exposed town is a moving experi-
ence. The place is surprisingly alive, although almost no one is there. Rocks-
quarried and carved rocks-are about all that remains. Some rocks remained
stacked as walls of buildings seemingly occupied only yesterday, others are piles
of rubble showing the effects of forty years of inundation and waves created by
Through her accomplished literary skills, Poniatowska, one of Mexico's lead-
ing writers, conveys the essence of Guerrero Viejo. Her finger is firmly on the
pulse of the town and its residents, both past and present. Her words-the left
column of each page in Spanish, the right column in English-paint an exquis-
ite picture. In a complementary vein, Payne's photographs tell a melancholy
story. All are panchromatic. Some are centered on the page, bordered in black,
with wide white margins. Others take up one or two full pages. Every image, be it
a close-up detail, a distant vista, or a portrait, tells a chapter in the continuing
saga of this town. By themselves, the works of Poniatowska and Payne are excep-
tional. Together, they are nothing short of masterful.
The history of Guerrero Viejo is not simply the story of its past. It is also the
story of its present, and even its future. Of course, predicting the future is a
nearly impossible task. One has to agree with the preface (p. vii), however: "If a
dam could be built, why not a levee?" Despite its obliteration, the town lives; lit-
erally through new inhabitants, and literarily and artistically through
Poniatowska and Payne.
The University of Texas at Austin WILLIAM E. DOOLITTLE
New Views of Borderlands History. Edited by Robert H. Jackson. (Albuquerque:
University of New Mexico Press, 1998. Pp. viii+242. Introduction, illustra-
tions, index, contributors profile. ISBN 0-8263-1938-6. $19.95, paper.)
The seven essays in this collection treat an area that U. S. scholars have known
as the "Spanish Borderlands": Spanish Florida and the northern provinces of the
viceroyalty of New Spain. Five of the essays are overviews (which editor Robert
Jackson terms "regional studies") of single provinces: Susan Deeds on
Chihuahua, Ross Frank on New Mexico, Robert Jackson on northern Sonora
and both Californias, Frank de la Teja on Texas, and Patricia Wickman on the
Floridas (the northeastern provinces of New Spain-Coahuila, Nuevo Le6n, and
Nuevo Santander-are missing, as is Spanish Louisiana). Two of the essays are,
Here’s what’s next.
Show all pages in this issue.
This issue can be searched. Note: Results may vary based on the legibility of text within the document.
Citing and Sharing
Basic information for referencing this web page. We also provide extended guidance on usage rights, references, copying or embedding.
Reference the current page of this Periodical.
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 103, July 1999 - April, 2000, periodical, 2000; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101220/m1/427/ocr/: accessed January 18, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.