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Desert Diary


In February of 1892, the International Boundary Survey took to the field in El Paso, Texas, given the task to "re-locate the existing frontier line between the two countries west of the Rio Grande, ..." Out of that endeavor came several reports, including one by Edgar Mearns on the mammals of the boundary.

Stations utilized in the survey are described and give us a bit of a picture of how educated outsiders saw the region. Regarding El Paso, Mearns wrote: "The Franklin and Muleros mountains close in upon the Rio Grande several miles above El Paso, that town occupying the upper portion of a desert lake basin, which extends down the river to the Quitman Mountains, where it again enters a canyon. This basin is sandy, arid, and sterile, except on the river flats, which are alluvial and very productive where irrigation has been effected." The valley is described as "...the river is bordered by a line of cottonwoods and willows, with arrowwood, Baccharis, screw bean, and mesquite covering the adjacent land." Mearns would be astounded by present-day El Paso!
pen and ink


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.

rule References

Mearns, E. A. 1907. Mammals of the Mexican Boundary of the United States. United States National Museum, Bulletin 56, Part I. rule