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Los Portales Museum & Information Center: The hidden historical gem

Annabella Mireles
The Museum is located on 1521 San Elizario Rd, San Elizario, TX and is open Tuesday through Sunday.

History books often praise El Paso and surrounding areas for the historical impact they had dating back to the 1500’s. Unfortunately, even with this significance, few residents know how much their city has impacted history. Los Portales Museum & Information Center, located in San Elizario, Texas is one of the few places that accentuates how important the city of El Paso and surrounding cities are.

In 1531, Hernán Cortés led the Spaniards to the north as they had conquered the Aztec Empire. While traveling to the north, in 1598 Juan de Oñate encountered “El Paso Del Rio Del Norte” (or “Pass of the North”) which allowed his group to easily pass between the mountains as opposed to having to climb them. Once discovering El Paso, Oñate decided to hold a celebratory dinner to show respect towards the Spaniard king as he had acquired new land. “La Toma” was celebrated through a Mass of Thanksgiving April 30, 1598. The mass was recognized as the first Thanksgiving in Texas.  

In 1877, the discovery of salt deposits in San Elizario created conflict amongst the U.S. and Spain. Because the value of salt was immense, due to its many uses such as curing meat, tensions began to rise for the battle of it. The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo in 1848 allowed for the Spanish to remain using the salt deposits but the deposits were robbed by Charles Howard which began The Salt War of 1877.

Los Placeres tells the history through informational posters as well as authentic artifacts. There was high effort by the San Elizario Genealogy and Historical Society to keeping many of the original artifacts intact to be able to display them. One of the many relics displayed is Heimer Reed’s Organ from 1885. Although much of the community does not know about this museum in San Elizario, Los Portales has had international visitors. Los Portales has records of where visitors from out of town come from, and it ranges from Las Vegas to Italy.  

“My favorite thing about Los Portales is the jail that held Billy the Kid,” said Yvette De la Riva, employee of Los Portales. “It’s interesting to see how people do not know the true story about Billy and how he was actually not imprisoned in the first place.”  

Near Los Portales Museum is the San Elizario Jail that held the infamous Billy the Kid. Having a reputation of being a gunman in the west during the 1800s, Billy found himself in the San Elizario Jail. Billy broke into the jail to help his friend escape. Locking the guards into the cell, then throwing the key away, emphasized how Billy the Kid was one of the deadliest men in the west during the time. 

To add attraction to the museum, Los Portales holds events for the public that allows the community to become closer together. A traditional event is poem nights that allow for visitors to express their writing creativity. Previous events included creating stars for Fourth of July, as well as ghost tours during the fall. 

For more information on the Los Portales Museum visit its website. 

Sofia Sierra is a contributor and may be reached at [email protected]

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About the Contributors
Sofia Sierra
Sofia Sierra, Web/Copy Editor
Sofia is a junior studying multimedia journalism with a minor in creative writing. She is the web and copy editor at The Prospector. After graduation, she hopes to work outside of El Paso to continue to grow as a writer.
Annabella Mireles
Annabella Mireles, Photo Editor
Annabella Mireles is a junior at the University of Texas at El Paso majoring in digital media production and minoring in film. She is the photo editor at the Prospector newspaper and Minero magazine as well as owning her own photography business. She plans on pursuing photography full time.
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    OscarJul 8, 2023 at 8:34 AM

    Beautiful place