The Salt Flats of the San Elizario Salt Wars

We did some touring this past weekend with our second-eldest grandchild.  On Saturday we drove to Carlsbad Caverns through the infamous salt flats of the San Elizario Salt Wars and passed by the highest point in Texas at the Guadalupe Mountains National Park.  As always, you get to see the adventure from the comfort of your air conditioned home:

Hard to believe, but in the Old West salt was a commodity worth starting a war.  Salt was badly needed in the Chihuahua Desert for everything from preserving meats, to mining silver (using the patio process), to keeping both man and animal alike alive by replenishing the salts lost to sweat in the 100°+ (38° Celsius) temperatures of summer.  Live stock simply could not exist in these extreme conditions without it.

At the base of the Guadalupe Mountains some 100 miles east of San Elizario, Texas, lie the vast salt flat pans near what is now the town of Salt Flat, Texas.  Starting in the 1870s a war broke out for control of this valuable resource — a war that would become nationally famous as the San Elizario Salt War.  This uprising saw the only instance in history in which a band of twenty Texas Rangers actually surrendered to a mob.

The object of this fascinating bit of Old West history still lies upon the ground along U.S. Route 180 / U.S. Route 62 between El Paso and Carlsbad.  Taking a look at the pictures, it’s hard to conceive that a commodity carried cheaply in any grocery store was once worth human lives:



Filed under Photography, travel

2 responses to “The Salt Flats of the San Elizario Salt Wars

  1. Fascinating landscape. Looks almost like an alien planet.

  2. I have an even more bizarre landscape coming soon to the blog — White Sands National Monument. Friday will be some fun pictures of it, and next week I’ll be showing some serious photography of this immense gypsum dune field.