Heritage, Volume 9, Number 4, Fall 1991 Page: 8
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Lower El Paso Valley Legacy:
Historic Missions Restoration
By Tom Walters and John Peterson
Photographs by James H. Evans
T he Lower Valley of El Paso was a
strategic spot for Spanish settlement of the
Upper Rio Grande, and its long history on
the frontier of Spanish, Mexican, and
American settlement is still etched onto its
cultural landscape. The prominent features
from four centuries of colonial and federal
presence are the missions and churches of
Ysleta, Socorro, and San Elizario. They
still dominate the centers of these communities
visually as well as in their spiritual
and social fabric. And they are the focus of
historical and cultural awareness and preservation
efforts for both locals and visitors
to the Lower Valley.
Numerous groups and individuals have
contributed to these efforts; most recently,
the Mission Trails Association has spearheaded
efforts to promote an historic district
along Socorro Road where it connects
the three missions. The Texas Legislature
recently passed enabling legislation to designate
the areas in El Paso County that
were outside incorporated limits of El Paso
or the City of Socorro; Socorro adopted a
parallel plan for those areas within their
boundaries. The City of El Paso has directed
preservation efforts within their boundaries
and have promoted the Mission Trails
through their Heritage and Tourism Program.
Along with these agencies, the Tigua
Reservation in Ysleta has joined in supporting
these preservation efforts that affect
their community both physically and
Ultimately, the preservation of the mission
landscapes of the Lower Valley have
an economic as well as ethical incentive.
Tourism is potentially a major dollar item
in local revenues. Certainly, the attractions
of the Tigua's excellent
Wyngs'n'Spirits restaurant and Tigua Cultural
Center are major draws for visitors to
the area. What better way to pass the day
than a driving tour along the Mission Trail,
The historic mission at Socorro was first built in 1680 on another site, but this structure was completed in
1843. The most visible signs of damage and decay can be noted on the mission's interior adobe walls shown
8 HERITAGE * FALL 1991
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Texas Historical Foundation. Heritage, Volume 9, Number 4, Fall 1991, periodical, Autumn 1991; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth45425/m1/8/: accessed June 26, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas Historical Foundation.