Article first published in Vol. 19, 2000.
By Ruth E. Vise
El Paso rapidly grew in population and diversity when the railroads arrived. Chinese railroad workers settled here along with Anglos and Mexicans. Families and wealthier individuals who came here saw the need for schools, churches and public services. Students in my English 3112 classes (Research and Critical Writing) explored a wide range of topics relating to El Paso, Northern Mexico and Southern New Mexico during the years 1880-1920.
They wrote on the first schools, churches and hospitals, the development of the fire department, library and cemetery. Others researched the influence of several Catholic orders and traced the history of the Mormons and Mennonites, who fled to Mexico to escape persecution. This issue also looks at El Paso's first theaters, the building of Scenic Drive and the effects of Prohibition. We purposely saved papers on gunfighters and other notorious characters of this era for another issue.
I sincerely thank my colleagues Daryl Troyer and Joe Old who cheerfully edited each story. Hearty thanks also go to artist Gabby Guzman and photographer Danny Martinez for their hard work. The EPCC and public librarians did a great job of helping my students and me find research materials. I am grateful to Aurora Rivera, who helped research, proofread and type the articles. Thanks to Joyce Ritchey, Dean of Communications and Fine Arts, for her enthusiastic and generous support of Borderlands. April, thanks for being a terrific daughter and promoter of this project.
Next fall I begin a new year at Northwest Center, leaving the Valle Verde campus after 15 years. Students will continue to research the history of this wonderful place we call home. We hope you enjoy this issue of Borderlands that traces some "civilizing" elements that made El Paso unique.
Ruth E. Vise