Friday, May 17, 2024

Wyler Aerial Tramway, once a soaring passageway into the skies above El Paso, may once again transport those adventurous enough up Ranger Peak after a 6-year closure. Recently reported in the El Paso Times, the project will be split into three phases. The first phase, already approved and funded, will bring improvements to the tramway base, followed by a new visitor center, and finally a new tramway because the original is no longer be usable. It may take many years for completion, but the first steps to get the aerial tramway underway again has seemingly begun.

A brief history of the aerial tramway: 

1959: Aerial tramway was built to carry workers and materials up to the KTSM towers high on Ranger Peak. At the time, it appears that the tramway had a good distance between its base of operations and the city (not the same could be said today!)

(El Paso Times, January 30, 1960)

From 1960 to January 1986: the tramway was open to the public and a must for anyone living in or visiting El Paso to experience.

(El Paso Times, February 23, 1974)

January 1986: Unfortunately, due to increased maintenance costs and a hefty $1 Million increased insurance policy, the tramway had to shut the tram doors and cease operations, hopeful to one day open again.

(El Paso Times, February 19, 1986)

March 10, 2001: The newly named Wyler Aerial Tramway reopened to the public on a (not so surprisingly) windy day.

(El Paso Times, March 11, 2001)

September 2018: Once again, the aerial tramway makes the difficult decision to shut the doors, this time due to an engineering analysis conducted that found it was no longer suitable for public use. 

The tramlines, it's station high on Ranger Peak, and even signs along the road still remind those that there was once a tramway that took generations high into the skies of El Paso.

For information like this and more, visit the Border Heritage Department where we hold vertical files on important local topics such as the aerial tramway. These files contain items such as newspaper clippings, pamphlets, booklets, and so much more!

Wednesday, April 17, 2024

National Internship Awareness Month

Did you know that April is National Internship Awareness Month? Internships (or practicums) are essential for those going to school to become a librarian.  We have been lucky enough to have an intern here at the Border Heritage Department for the past 3 months as she is finishing her final semester at the University of North Texas obtaining her Master of Library Science degree.

During her internship, countless hours have been spent on a large digitization project in creating the Local Newspapers & Newsletters collection featured on our Digital Archives website. 

She has had hands-on experience with scanning historical documents, editing, importing, and creating the metadata that is attached to each item. This experience will aid her in her future career....perhaps as an archivist so she can continue preserving and sharing historical documents for all to access. Wherever she lands, we wish you the best and Happy Graduation in May!  

Let's give all the interns out there you know a hand this, and all months to come!

Monday, April 8, 2024

 El Paso...officially reporting eclipses since 1885!

The Border Heritage Department, along with most of El Paso, took a break today to step outside and view the Eclipse from the Sergio Troncoso Library.

No eclipse glasses are needed however to check out the many interesting and valuable resources we have here at our temporary location.  

Renovations are wrapping up and before we know it, it will be time to box everything up and head back to the Main Library location in Downtown.  Visit us now or later, we'd be happy to help you in your research needs!

Wednesday, March 27, 2024

The month of March may hold many reasons to celebrate......Spring Break, National Read Across America Day, National Pi Day, St. Patrick's Day, Easter, Manatee Appreciation Day.....the list could go on.  The Border Heritage Department however would like to pay tribute to a topic that deserves a whole month of recognition.....National Women's History Month.

Women have fought for justice and equality throughout time and the Farah Factory Strike of 1972-1974 is a fierce example of what a largely female employed workforce can do. Combatting low wages, high demands and little benefits, the Farah workers of El Paso fought for their right to Unionize and make a fair wage.  

Video by Susan Barnum

More information on the Farah Strike can be found at the website for the University of Texas at Austin Exhibit page below.


Monday, February 26, 2024

Since 1976, February has presidentially been proclaimed Black History Month in the United States, although the celebrations began long before. 

But why February? 

Celebrations began in this month that hold the birthdays of both Frederick Douglass (February 14, 1818) and Abraham Lincoln (February 12, 1809), both key individuals involved with the Emancipation of slaves during the American Civil War.  

As February comes to a close, the Border Heritage Department would like to highlight just a small fraction of that history here in El Paso. 

Tuesday, February 13, 2024

Extra, extra, read all about it!

Did you know that the El Paso Public Library has a resource available to library patrons to access news articles from the El Paso Times and the El Paso Herald as far back as 1881?!?!

Ever wondered what the price of eggs was in 1958? (53 cents by the way ;)

Looking for articles from when you starred on your high school football team?  

Maybe you're a student looking for more sources for that paper you're writing?

The ProQuest Historical Newspapers: El Paso Herald/El Paso Times database can be accessed at any of the El Paso Public Libraries or even from your own home with a valid library card!

To help the library staff at the many locations around town, the Border Heritage Department has begun giving hands-on training so that any of the library staff should be able to assist in using this valuable resource. 

This short instructional video will show you just how easy accessing these newspapers can be from any El Paso Public Library location.

If you have any questions, leave a comment below or email us directly at

Monday, February 5, 2024

Sun Bowl History in El Paso

It's the big week for football fans everywhere! Chips will crunched, wings will be tossed, and soon the smell of barbecues will fill the air. As we prepare for the big day we thought we would highlight our own local version of the Super Bowl.....the Sun Bowl! 

Wednesday, January 31, 2024

Moments in El Paso's History

In 2023 the City of El Paso celebrated its 150th birthday! To help celebrate this milestone the Border Heritage Center created short, historical videos highlighting the culturally rich past of the area. Travel back in time as you see how significant the arrival of the railroads was to the rising city.

Wednesday, September 8, 2021

Borderland Heritage History: Humberto Silex


Humberto Silex, Sr. Transcript

Hello! This is Susan Barnum with Borderland Heritage History brought to you by the El Paso Public Library.

In this episode, we’re getting organized and heading back to the middle of the twentieth century on the border. Here we’ll see a labor union form which led to El Paso’s own Red Scare.

Humberto Silex, Sr. Was born on January 15, 1903 in Managua, Nicaragua. He came to the United States in 1920 and went on to serve in the US Army for six months. Afterwards, Humberto moved around the United States as a journeyman laborer where he was able to make as much as $6 a day.

In 1931, he moved to El Paso, hoping to find a place he could settle down. He married Maria de Jesus Renteria and the couple would have seven children together.

Work was not great in El Paso. Humberto began to work at the ASARCO smelter where there was no vacation, no sick-leave and workers only made $1.75 a day. Mexican-American workers were denied promotions in favor of Anglo workers doing the same jobs.

In 1938, a Mill, Mine, and Smelter Workers Union representative heard Humberto talk about the work conditions at ASARCO. Three months later, a union organizer came to El Paso and helped Humberto and fellow employee, Cefarino Anchondo, form Local 509. Eventually, this union would have more than 1,500 members from ASARCO, the Phelps Dodge Copper Refinery and other businesses. Humberto helped negotiate better pay through Local 509 for the employees of the El Paso Brick Company in 1941. In 1944, union members at ASARCO received a wage increase. When ASARCO and Phelps Dodge Refinery planned a strike in 1946 to demand better wages, Humberto represented Local 509.

Despite these gains, trouble was lurking on the horizon. In 1939, Chris Fox, the El Paso County Sheriff, started to secretly investigate citizens of El Paso he suspected of communist activities. Six men were arrested. Members of the Bakers Union were targeted and later so were members of the Mine Mill Union. The Catholic Clergy in El Paso, including Bishop Sidney Metzger, also participated in union-busting, and threatened to excommunicate church members if they joined unions. In 1940, Humberto, and Cefarino were fired by ASARCO and both men were blackballed. Even though Humberto was reinstated at ASARCO after a court case, he was fired again in 1945 for his union activities. When Humberto visited the plant three days later after his second firing, he got into a fight with his former boss and was charged with aggravated assault.

This assault charge threatened Humberto’s chances to become a naturalized American citizen. His application for citizenship was denied in 1947 based on a judge’s decision that Humberto lacked “good moral character,” and citing the fight. The decision was reversed by an appeals court, but in 1949 the United States government reopened the case and decided to charge Humberto with suspected Communist activity. During the new case, Humberto testified that he had not associated with Communists nor had he had given speeches in favor of communism to the Mine Mill union, Local 509. The U.S. government won the case and he was denied citizenship again in December of 1949. He did not appeal the case and was investigated again for possible deportation in 1957.

Despite these setbacks. Humberto managed to stay in El Paso. He continued to support the union and eventually became an American Citizen in 1991. He died on March 14, 2002 at age 99 and was buried an in the Fort Bliss National Cemetery.

I found out about Humberto Silex, Sr. From the Nathalie Gross Archives in the Border Heritage Center. In the archive, there are many original documents from El Paso’s labor union history. To find out more for yourself, call 915-212-3218 for more information.

Wednesday, August 25, 2021

Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 812


This year, the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Post 812 had their 100th anniversary. The first temporary commander in 1921 was John R. Donoghue. The post, located in McKelligon Canyon, was named after two soldiers who died during World War I, Thomas Hart Davis and Rives Seamon.

Lieutenant Thomas Hart Davis was killed in action on July 21, 1918 in Germany. He was the son of retired General Thomas F. Davis. He was an El Paso native and his body was brought back to El Paso for burial in 1921. Davis was part of Battery F 12th Field Artillery. His death occurred "when the Americans were checking the Germans' final drive on Paris."

Lieutenant Rives Seamon was killed in the battle of Chaudron farm on September 29, 1918. Seamon was leader of a platoon in the 138th infantry. During the battle, they were to bush the combat patrol to the front of the objective. The platoon faced heavy artillery fire. While attacking a machine-gun nest, he was "killed by a high explosive shell." His body was not recovered. 

The image above is from the El Paso Herald on February 25, 1922.


"Foreign War Veteran Name Post 'Davis -Seamon.'" (August 9, 1921) El Paso Herald

"Lieut. Thomas H. Davis." (May 21, 1921) El Paso Herald.

"Tribute to Lieut. Seamon." (July 1, 1919) El Paso Herald.

Wyler Aerial Tramway, once a soaring passageway into the skies above El Paso, may once again transport those adventurous enough up Ranger Pe...