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El Paso, Texas, the "Sun City Capital of Texas"

Take a few days to explore downtown, enjoy the Tex-Mex meals, and see what this fascinating border town has to offer. The city of El Paso is located between two mountain ranges on the shores of the Rio Grande River in Texas' westernmost corner. The name of this sun-swept, mountainous desert community is derived from the Spanish word meaning "crossing." The population was estimated at 713,126 in 2004.

A Brief History of El Paso

El Paso is an open history book with legendary gunfighters, border disputes, Spanish conquistadors and ancient highways. The geographical location is what made El Paso so rich in historical events. The Franklin Mountains provided natural shelter and defense for American Indians and the Rio Grande provided water. The mountains slope into a canyon offering Spanish explorers such as Cabeza de Vaca in 1536 a north-south path through the channel of the Rio Grande, which came to be known as "Camino Real" or "King's Highway."

In an effort to defend settlers against Indians and Mexican bandits, Fort Bliss was established. During the Mexican Revolution, this location was where military leader Francisco "Pancho" Villa organized his forces. El Paso established its independence in 1821. When the railroad came in 1881, the town was nicknamed "Sin City" due to the vast number of saloons, brothels and casinos that flooded every major street. In 1967, a portion of the city was ceded to Mexico.

Interesting El Paso Facts

El Paso is home to the Sun Bowl. Some well-known residents include TV journalist Sam Donaldson, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, actress/singer Debbie Reynolds, singer Vicki Carr and actor Thomas Hayden Church. The movies "Lost in America" and "Traffic" were filmed in El Paso. El Paso's minor league baseball team is the Diablos. The University of Texas at El Paso is offered for higher education.

Sites and Attractions in El Paso

The El Paso Zoo (http://www.elpasozoo.org/) is an 18-acre facility with a variety of more than 500 birds, mammals, amphibians and reptiles. There are around 700 fish as well! Beautiful habitat exhibits include the Reptile House, Americas Aviary, Birds of Prey, Forest Atrium and more! There's even an Elephant Complex, so don't forget the peanuts!

McKellington Canyon Park offers picnicking or a three-mile hike along the Senda Manana Trail located in the heart of the Franklin Mountains. Or visit the 55-acre Chamizal National Park which commemorates the peace settlement after the U.S. and Mexican ongoing border dispute.

El Paso History

Visit the Natural History Museum of El Paso and view over 300 displays. The museum shows the largest international fossil collection in the region. The El Paso Convention and Performing Arts Center (http://www.elpasocvb.com/) seats over 2,500 and hosts the ballet, the El Paso Symphony and several stage and musical performances annually.

The War Eagle Air Museum displays a collection of 28 flyable, fully restored military aircraft from WWII and the Korean Conflict eras. The Fort Bliss Army Air Defense Artillery is one of the largest military installations in Texas. It began as a small camp in 1847 to keep Indians in control. Today it holds a large foreign and U.S. anti-aircraft weapons display ranging from the WWII era to date.

Just for Fun in El Paso

For those who love sports or music, the Don Haskins Center is the largest concert and sports venue in El Paso with a capacity for 11,767 people. Or, horse race fans can go to the races at Sunland Park Racetrack located just across the border in NM. They'll see thoroughbreds and quarter horses race to the finish!

Those wishing to visit El Paso, Texas USA can learn more about the area at the city's Web site. (http://www.ci.el-paso.tx.us/)