Stories

Transit stop in the Camino Real de Tierra Adentro

by Jorge Sanchez - 3 years ago

Mesilla was a transit stop of half day in my way from El Paso to Santa Fe. I had to change buses in Las Cruces, but before of that I resolved to get to know the historical town of Mesilla, a town of scarcely 12000 souls located at 6 kilometers distance. The Plaza was built as a protection against the Apaches. All the houses around are made with adobe. Mesilla was a stop in two famous routes: El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro (from Mexico D. F. to Santa Fe), founded by Don Juan de Oñate, and also the Butterfield Overland Mail Trail (nicknamed the Oxbow Road), that owns its name to John Butterfield, who carried mail from St Louis and Memphis to Los Angeles and San Francisco, via El Paso and Mesilla, in the middle of the XIX century. During the "Wild West" era, Mesilla was known for its cantinas and festivals. In some plaques on the walls of Mesilla I read that famous personages such as Bill the Kid, Paul Garret and Pancho Villa had been in Mesilla. The most interesting and the center of all activity in Mesilla was its famous Oñate Plaza. Everything was there: the Basilica San Albino, the Cantinas, the Glorieta, La Posta with the Spanish flag, plus the building that in the past was the Courthouse where Bill the Kid was tried and sentenced to hang (although he escaped). The Basilica of San Albino, formerly known as San Albino Church of Mesilla, is part of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Las Cruces and is located in Mesilla. It has the distinction of having originally been established in Mexico, but it is now located in the United States as a result of a transfer of territory in the Gadsden Purchase. The first church on the site was built in 1852; the current structure was built in 1906, and is one of the oldest churches in the region. Daily masses are held in both Spanish and English, although when I visited it there was no Mass service, but could have a look at its interior.


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