Heritage, Volume 8, Number 2, Spring 1990 Page: 32
Guerrero is easily accessible S
by paved highway, from either
Laredo or Eagle Pass. Since we
used the Eagle Pass-Piedras Negras
entry, our tour of Guerrero begins
there. Usually, the customs officials
on the Mexican side will want
you to get a tourist permit to travel
to Guerrero, so remember to bring
your car registration and proof of
American citizenship-either a
passport, birth certificate or voter
registration card (a driver's license
won't do). After crossing the international
bridge and passing
through Mexican customs, continue
through Piedras Negras on
Highway 57. A few miles outside
Piedras Negras, Highway 57
intersects with Highway 2, a paved
road that runs to Guerrero and
then south to Nuevo Laredo. It is
just about thirty miles from this -
intersection to the town of Guerrero.
With an early morning start
in Austin or San Antonio, you can have
lunch in Eagle Pass or Laredo and then
drive to Guerrero for the two or three
hours needed to see the town and mission
San Bernardo. There are no overnight
tourist facilities in Guerrero and no fancy
restaurants! However, a simple meal,
snacks, and cold drinks are available.
When arriving in Guerrero, you may
want to stop first at the San Bemardo
church, visible and clearly marked on the
left of Highway 2 as you drive into town.
After visiting the ruins, you can take this
same road south back into town. However,
you will cross a little spring-fed stream and
may want to stop there to examine the
artificial acequia cut into the bedrock.
Nearby are the remnants of a natural dam
that once formed a lake, but which local
folklore indicates was dynamited in the
early 1900s so that more water would flow
downstream. Beside the dam is a stone
quarry that provided the travertine blocks
used in building San Bernardo and other
structures in the area.
Continue then, by car, into downtown
Guerrero, which built up around the
old presidio. There is a central plaza that
was once the presidio quadrangle, enclosed
by presidio buildings. Nearly all the old
presidio-era structures have been demolished.
However, on the east side of the
plaza stands the San Juan Bautista parish
church, not to be confused with the mission
described earlier. It was begun during
Restoration work by the Mexican government
in 1975 at the San Bernardo Church.
the presidio period and completed in the
early nineteenth century. The two cast
copper bells still seen in the bell tower
(which you can visit) were placed there in
1857 to commemorate the 150th anniversary
of the founding of the presidio. The
key to the church is kept in the City Hallthe
two story Presidencia Municipal-on
the south side of the plaza, and the church
can be opened on request.
On the west side of the plaza, where
there is now a school, was the site of the
presidio headquarters and guardhouse. Soldiers'
barracks were located on the north
side where there is now a private residence
and other buildings. The presidio captain's
house, Casa de Capitan, is off the northwest
comer of the plaza on Calle Alama.
Built in 1776, it has only recently collapsed.
There are other buildings of the
Spanish presidio period still standing in
Guerrero. For example, one block west of
the plaza, on Calle Sanchez, is the Casa
Botello. Currently a residence and store, it
was once the presidio paymaster's house.
Local inquiries will guide the visitor to
many other historic buildings throughout
Guerrero, some occupied and some in
ruins, dating to the eighteenth and nineteenth
centuries. Some of the homes have
beams, or vigas, which are carved with
dates from the early nineteenth century.
On the eastern side of town, on
Calle Abasolo, is the town
cemetery. Some of the stone
burial crypts date to the Spanish
period. The main street of
Guerrero, the Calle Raul Lopez
Sanche, was once called the Calle
Real,and originated as part of the
- Camino Real.. To the west, about
1/2 mile from town, the remains
of San Juan Bautista are found
but cannot be visited. The visitor
will see, as we did in 1975, a low
hill covered with mesquite brush,
south of the road. However, in
the same area, the visitor will
cross a water-filled channel, fed
by the Las Brujas spring. Just as it
did in Spanish times, this spring
continues to supply water to
Guerrero, through an acequia system
that can be seen throughout
the town, carefully maintained
and watering many gardens.
San Juan Bautista del Rio
Grande del Norte-or Guerrerowitnessed
many important events in the
history of Texas and northeast Mexico.
Important missions were established here
at the beginning of the eighteenth century;
one later moved to San Antonio and
became the Alamo. The Camino Real ran
through Guerrero and continued north of
town to the Rio Grande and the river
crossings or fords found there. Santa
Anna's army marched through Guerrero
in 1836, after enduring an unprecedented
snowstorm in the region to the south.
Excavations by the Gateway Project have
provided maps for two of the mission
complexes, and much new information
about the buildings, artifacts, the history,
and the peoples who lived in this area in
the eighteenth century.
For more information on Guerrero, order a copy of
Guerrero, Coahuila, Mexico, A Guide to the Town and
Missions,written in both English and Spanish-$5,
from the Center for Archaeological Research, The
University of Texas at San Antonio, San Antonio,
Dr. Thomas R. Hester is Professor of
Anthropology, and director, Texas Archeological
Research Laboratory, at The University of Texas at
Austin. He has authored several papers on the
artifacts of the mission Indians.
Jack D. Eaton is the acting director, Center for
Archaeological Research, The University of Texas
at San Antonio. He is the author of a guidebook to
Guerrero and other publications on the work of the
32 HERITAGE * SPRING 1990
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Texas Historical Foundation. Heritage, Volume 8, Number 2, Spring 1990, periodical, Spring 1990; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth45428/m1/32/: accessed October 17, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas Historical Foundation.