In the 1600s, Spanish settlers first named the agriculturally rich town "El Paso del Norte" and established hundreds of Spanish Missions here. However, everything changed for this quiet and peaceful community with the arrival of the railroads in the late 1800s. Resembling the set of a Clint Eastwood western, El Paso became the scene for gun-slinging cowboys, cattle hustlers, saloon brawls and six-shooter duels. Home to legendary outlaws like Billy the Kid, Wyatt Earp, John Wesley Hardin and Pancho Villa, this truly was the "real wild west".
The lawlessness and debauchery continued until the arrival of the Americans in the early 1920s when the U.S. Army chose El Paso's Fort Bliss military outpost as its primary training facility. With pressure from the U.S. government and the growing presence of military troops, the bustling boomtown was forced to clean up its act. This newfound stability paved the way for budding entrepreneurs looking for opportunity. Hotelier Conrad Hilton opened his first high-rise hotel in downtown El Paso, now known as the Plaza Hotel, and a little-known bartender named Francisco "Pancho" Morales crafted the first margarita at a local saloon.
It's no mystery why so many people were attracted to this region in the first place. Lying on the western tip of Texas in the heart of the Chihuahuan Desert, the city is divided by the Franklin Mountains to the North and the Rio Grande to the South. With over 305 days of sunshine, El Paso earns its "Sun City" title and boasts spectacular panoramic views of clay-colored rock formations against a blue and purple horizon at dusk.
The locals, known as "El Pasoans," enjoy year-round outdoor activities at venues such as Franklin Mountain State Park, the largest urban park in the United States with over 37 miles of hiking, mountain biking and rock climbing. Although the summer months are hot and dry (it is the desert after all), the winter temps stay in the mid-50s, making this a popular destination for residents of colder climates.