El Paso: A Borderlands History.
By W. H. Timmons. El Paso: Texas Western Press, 2005. ISBN 0-87404-246-1 Paper $40.00, 6 x 9, 473 pp., photos, illustrations, bibliography, index, a re-issue of 1990. http://www.utep.edu/twp; email@example.com
W.H. Timmons, born 1915, studied at the University of Chicago and the University of Texas at Austin. After teaching at the University of Texas at El Paso for 30 years, he became a professor emeritus of history. He knew El Paso. Timmons’ volume stretches from antiquity to the 1980s and includes many illustrations by Jose Cisneros. The 40-page bibliography is itself a starting point for historians of the El Paso region. You should have this volume and C. L. Sonnichsen’s Pass of the North as bookends. See Timmons’ archives at UTEP described at http://libraryweb.utep.edu/special/findingaids/timmonswh.cfm
Often referred to as the “oldest town in Texas with some justification, Timmons treats in detail the pre-American period before 1848 in the first third of the history. El Paso, like Amarillo, is stuck way out there on the map, and its connection to broader Texas is often overlooked, but without El Paso as an immigrant and transportation nexus the westering would have blunted and splayed elsewhere. The stagecoach and railroads passage were literal bloodlines in economic development. Fort Bliss became a major economic engine. Folks in El Paso have a blurry Rio Grande line with Mexico’s Juarez with which their history is critically entwined.
Timmons brings unexpected facts to life. A Chinese community developed in wake of their laborers in laying the 1870s railroads. Folks took tourist trips to the actual border line to witness the “Battle of Juarez” during the Mexican Revolution. The cultural life was enlivened by the novelist and artist Tom Lea, artist Jose Cisneros, and printer Carl Hertzog, a trio rivaling Austin’s Dobie, Bedichek and Webb writing triumvirate and Amarillo’s writer J. Evetts Haley and artist Harold Bugbee twosome.
Overall, Timmons is an excellent selection for reading and edification.