We left Hueco Tanks behind and headed south and west for yet another El Paso area attraction — the Spanish Missions along El Paso’s Mission Trail. Ursula drove, I navigated, and our visitor David Williams rode in chauffeured comfort. Since we were already east of El Paso we ran the trail in the opposite direction — starting at the farthest mission and heading west back toward the city of El Paso.
When going this direction, the first Spanish Mission you’ll encounter on the trail is Presidio Chapel of San Elizario, located in San Elizario, Texas. Presidio Chapel isn’t the only draw here, as San Elizario is gaining notoriety as a growing artist community. Indeed, one of my favorite local impressionists has a gallery here, Alberto Escamilla. Looking at Alberto’s work one would think she was studying one of the French Impressionist masters of the late 19th Century. That’s probably why Ursula and I own two of his works. The following picture is not of Alberto’s gallery, but rather that of another I showcased in my previous three-part series on Mission Trail (links to Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3):
And then there’s this charming place, which I’ve yet to try but keep vowing to do one day:
But I digress. Back to Presidio Chapel. Although this adobe structure dates back to only 1877, it stands on the site of the original San Elizario Spanish Mission from 1790. The presidio designation indicates that the original structure served two purposes — religious and military. Presidios were in fact military fortifications. The present day Presidio Chapel retains the name of that function, but today it’s all church built, and as you can see it was built in the Spanish Colonial style.
We had a spot of difficulty getting into Mission Socorro. The area was blocked off with temporary fencing and admission was charged for entrance for that evening’s Mother’s Day festivities. We explained we were only there to photograph the mission, so we were allowed temporary entry to do so.
This charming little mission was founded by the Franciscan Order way back in 1682, but the adobe structure you see here only goes back to 1840.
I’ll have more on the Socorro Mission and yet another mission on Wednesday.