Things You Didn’t Know About El Paso
El Paso is a place famous for its rich history, diverse culture, and delectable food. There’s a lot more to the region than you might realize, however.
Here are some interesting tidbits about El Paso that might just surprise you.
It used to be the most dangerous place in the west
Sure, these days homeowners are lining up to buy El Paso houses for sale, but it wasn’t always so. Back in the 1800s, the region gained a reputation for being rough ‘n’ tumble, thanks largely to many saloons and gambling establishments. With so many lawless desperados running around, El Paso earned itself an appropriately Wild West-style nickname as “the Six Shooter Capital.”
It’s the birthplace of the margarita
Feeling thirsty? So were the customers at Tommy’s Bar in 1942, when bartender Francisco Morales combined tequila, liqueur, and lime, thus giving birth to every Mexican food connoisseur’s favorite adult beverage, the margarita (a drink which just so happens to share its name with Morales’ wife). Though many others have taken credit for his invention over the years, Morales did it first.
It’s the one place Billy the Kid broke into prison
There are no shortage of stories about notorious outlaw Billy the Kid breaking out of jail, but there’s only one account of him ever breaking in. Upon learning that his compatriot Melquiades Segura had been captured, the legendary gunman posed as a Texas Ranger to infiltrate the prison, before holding the guards at gunpoint and locking them up while he and Segura escaped. The site of this daring breakout still stands today in the form of the Old El Paso County Jail Museum.
It’s a bona fide Hollywood movie star
California might be where all the big actors and directors call home, but when they’re looking for stunning desert landscapes and historic 19th-century buildings, they come to El Paso. Some of the major motion pictures filmed here include David Lynch’s Wild at Heart, Steven Soderbergh’s Traffic, the original 1972 version of The Getaway, the 1997 remake of Lolita, and even the perennial so-bad-it’s-good “classic” Manos: the Hands of Fate.
It’s also home to a whole different kind of star
Those living in El Paso don’t need to watch a movie or bust out a telescope to catch a glimpse of a star. All they have to do is turn their gaze towards Franklin Mountain. There, 459 light bulbs are arranged into the nearly 300-foot-wide and 400-foot-tall shape of a giant five-pointed star. Originally made to commemorate Christmas, the star is now a shining fixture of the El Paso horizon each and every night.
It’s the site of the real first Thanksgiving
Speaking of holidays, Thanksgiving might not be as popular as Christmas, but folks in El Paso take it very seriously. Why? Because they claim the tradition truly started in 16th century Texas, not 17th century Massachusetts as many of us believe. According to historical accounts, after a long and dangerous expedition, Spanish explorer Juan de Oñate held the first Thanksgiving celebration upon finding his way to the Rio Grande.
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