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Desert Diary


Funny. People think that El Paso and Juárez are isolated! Perhaps so, by modern standards, where El Pasoans like to brag that we're closer to three other state capitals than our own Austin—and most of us darn glad of it! On the other hand, it really means that we don't fully encompass the meaning of isolated. Before the railroad arrived in the 1880s, you had the choice of stagecoach, horse, wagon, or shank's mare.

In good going with a change of horses every 10 miles, you might make up to 125 miles a day by stagecoach. Using Austin as a marker, then the trip might have been made in about 5 days. On horseback, 2 to 3 weeks. Wagon? Plan on about a month or more at 15 to 20 miles a day. Hoofing it? Better figure on 30 to 40 days, unless you're really going to push it. These are rough figures, to be sure, and any of these times could be improved if necessity was great enough, except the stagecoach, which is already pushing it. Isolated today? Hah!
pen and ink

Listen to the Audio (mp3 format) as recorded by KTEP, Public Radio for the Southwest.


Contributor: Arthur H. Harris, Laboratory for Environmental Biology, Centennial Museum, University of Texas at El Paso.

Desert Diary is a joint production of the Centennial Museum and KTEP National Public Radio at the University of Texas at El Paso.