Today we say goodbye to both David Williams and the Williams Tour of the El Paso area. It was a great although brief run. Click on any image below for today’s slide show.
Tag Archives: El Paso area
Ursula, David Williams, and I made our way inside the Mother’s Day festivities area headed over to the Socorro Mission. On the outside it may not look nearly as impressive as Presidio San Elizario, but looks can be deceiving. Here’s the inside:
As you can see it contains an incredible wood-beamed ceiling inside the thick adobe walls (note the windows for a hint at how thick). Adobe construction is a fascinating feature of the early Southwest. In dry areas such as El Paso, which averages around nine inches of precipitation a year, it is very durable if reasonable care is used to preclude erosion of the outer surface coating. The real advantage though is the thermal mass of the thick walls, which keeps occupants cool in the summer and warm in the winter.
After our tour of Mission Socorro we continued west to the small community of Ysleta. The mission is actually located on Ysleta del Sur Pueblo, home of the Tigua Indian Tribe. The official name of this charming domed mission is La Mision de Corpus Christi de San Antonio de la Ysleta del Sur, which translates to The Mission of the Body of Christ of Saint Anthony of the Ysleta of the South.
Now you’re wondering what the heck the “Ysleta of the South” means. That refers to the exodus of the Ysleta peoples (Isleta in New Mexico’s Albuquerque area) following the Pueblo Revolt of 1680. Is this area rich in history, or what?
So, you see, El Paso’s Tigua (pronounced “Tiwa”) are actually Ysletas who are related to the Isleta and Sandia Pueblos of Northern New Mexico. Together, these three factions make up the Southern Tiwa-speaking peoples, which are an offshoot of the Tanoan Language tribes. And the Tanoan Language tribes include the Taos Pueblo, Kiowa, Jemenez (Towa), and Tewa. That’s a pretty complicated family tree that originally stretched from present-day Arizona through New Mexico and into Texas and Oklahoma back before us European illegal immigrants invaded and disrupted the whole shebang.
Mission Ysleta is the oldest of the three missions along El Paso’s Mission Trail. The Tiguas flooded into this area in 1680 after they were displaced by the Pueblo Revolt, but the first mass was conducted here twenty years prior — in 1660. Subsequent churches built here were destroyed by flooding in 1740 and 1829. The present structure was completed in 1851 and a domed tower (not the one you see here) added in 1897. In 1907 the church was almost destroyed by fire, and it was after this rebuilding that the current silver dome was added.
Here’s one last look at the domed bell tower:
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.