History of Ciudad Juárez

Numerous Indian tribes inhabited and roamed the Southwest especially in the areas watered by the Rio Grande. The fertile valley provided support for tribes and travelers.
In the 16th century the Spanish expeditions into the Southwest began.
Spanish missionaries and soldiers established missions as far north as Santa Fe, New Mexico. They were determined to convert the native Indian population to Christianity. Missions established along the El Paso area of the Rio Grande included Senecú del Sur, Ysleta, Socorro and San Elizario.
Juan de Oñate founded El Paso del Rio del Norte in 1598.
The mission of Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe was founded in 1659.
Around 2000 Spaniards and Indians fled to the Southwest mission area after the Pueblo Revolt of 1680.
A thriving agricultural community developed.
In the early 1800s Anglo-American excursions into the Southwest began.
In 1821 Mexico obtained its independence from Spain. El Paso del Norte continued to flourish now under Mexican rule. It was part of the state of Chihuahua.
Texas won its independence from Mexico in 1836. The Rio Grande became an international boundary although it was not recognized as such in an area where no such thing had been known before.
The Mexican War of 1846 confirmed the Rio Grande as the international boundary through the Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo. During the war American forces defeated the Mexican army at the Battle of Brazito.
The state of Chihuahua established a free trade zone in 1858. It lasted for a number of years.
Mexico overthrew the French government in 1867. The Mexican revolutionaries were under the direction of Benito Juárez. Juárez found refuge in the border area during the course of the revolution.
In 1888 El Paso del Norte changed its name to Ciudad Juárez in honor of Benito Juárez, hero of the revolution against France.
The Mexican-Revolution of 1910-1920 greatly affected the border towns of Juárez and El Paso. Many Mexican residents fled to the north in order to avoid the fighting.
Pancho Villa raided Columbus, New Mexico in 1916 resulting in John J. Pershing's Expedition into Mexico to catch Villa.
In 1950 the manufacturing industry began with the building of the PRONAF.
The North American Free Trade Treaty was signed in 1992 and went into effect in 1994. A strong international trade arrangement resulted.

More History of Ciudad Juarez

In 1581 the first Spanish explorer, Don Juan de Onate, crossed the Rio Grande river at what would later become El Paso del Norte (the Pass of the North). This was more than 60 years after Cortez first landed in the Yucatan and nearly 40 years before the Pilgrims would land at Plymouth Rock.
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It would be nearly 20 more years before the first settlers would establish a village at this location. Father Garcia de San Francisco would later found the Mission of Our Lady of Guadeloupe completed in January of 1668. The Mission still stands in downtown Juarez today where it is used daily as a place of worship.
The Rio Grande River (or Rio Bravo to Mexicans) gave the area its' name and prosperity. Contrary to popular belief, El Paso does not refer to a passage through the mountains but rather the place to cross the river.
The center of the river today serves as the boundary between the US and Mexico. In the past it served as a watering point for the numerous cattle drives from Chihuahua city to Santa Fe, New Mexico.
During this period El Paso was the major stopping point along the Camino Real (Royal Road). The drovers and their charges would often spend weeks or even months waiting here to cross what was often a raging river. This was truly a town of the Wild West with cattle drives, gun fights , saloons, and bawdy houses. Over the years it has known such notable residents as Billy the Kid, John Wesly Hardin, Pancho Villa, and others.
For a short period of time in 1865 the city was the capital of the Mexican government. Fleeing from the French forces of Maximillian (then occupying the country), the elected Mexican President, Benito Juarez, established his government here. Eventually the Mexican army defeated the French forces and Maximillian was executed. Following his death in 1872, the city would honor this great president of Indian heritage (in 1888) by re-naming the city Ciudad Juarez.
The old Customs House (now a museum) in downtown Juarez was the site of talks between then US President, William H. Taft, and Mexican President, Porfirio Diaz. This same building would soon see the signing of the treaty ending the Mexican Revolution and resulting in the resignation of President Diaz. Much of the fighting during the Revolution took place in the Juarez-Chihuahua area conducted by such well known Mexican Heroes as Emilio Zapata, Francisco Madero, and Francisco "Pancho" Villa.
Most recently, following a course change by the Rio Grande river, lands once belonging to the US were returned to Mexican control. Begun during the Kennedy administration in 1963, the Chamizal Treaty was finalized, in 1967 by President Lyndon Johnson and the lands were officially turned over to Mexican control. The results are the Chamizal National Monument and Chamizal Parks on both sides of the border.
Ciudad Juarez today is enjoying one of it's greatest periods of prosperity of a boom and bust history. Following the recent signing of the North American Free Trade Agreement, Juarez became the major manufacturing location in Mexico.
Today's Juarez has four universities, approximately 400 factories or maquiladoras, traditional shopping areas and modern shopping malls, museums, old missions, public libraries, sports complexes, the forth largest bullfighting arena in the world, a country club, off track betting, world class hotels and restaurants, an international airport, cock fights, nightclubs, and a thriving red light district. If there is something you want, you can probably find it here.
Now let us welcome you to Mexico and Ciudad Juarez. Take your first step by Crossing into Mexico.


Crossing into Mexico is so easy that drivers unaccustomed to the El Paso area have often been known to make a wrong turn and find themselves pulling up to a Mexican customs booth before they know what happened. If this should happen to you and you happen to be carrying any type of a gun or even one round of ammunition, you could find yourself in the custody of the Mexican penal system for a long time. The #1 rule when going to Mexico is NO GUNS, NO AMMO! Otherwise, crossing into Mexico is a snap.


In the El Paso area there are three primary bridges to take you over the Rio Grande river. The oldest of the three in downtown El Paso is actually two separate bridges. If you are driving into Mexico, go South on Stanton Street, pay $1.25 at the toll booth and cross the bridge. Coming back into the US, you will need to get on Benito Juarez Avenue and pay $1.40 on the Mexican side. You will arrive in downtown El Paso on El Paso Street.
If you are walking, this El Paso street bridge will probably be the most convenient. Just follow the other pedestrians up the sidewalk on El Paso Street to the toll collector and return the opposite way on the same bridge. Walking across will cost you 25 cents each direction. You can walk across any of the bridges but this is the bridge used by the vast majority of pedestrians.
If you are driving, but for whatever reason don't wish to take your car across, go South on Santa Fe Street (one block west of El Paso Street). Park your car at any of the pay parking lots located at the end of the street, and follow the signs to the pedestrian toll booth. Instead of walking the 100 yards across the bridge, you can take one of the many tour cars or taxis that wait near the parking lots , but this will cost you anywhere from 10 to 20 dollars to get to the other side.
The main bridge for automobiles and some commercial trucks is the Bridge of the Americas (also known as the Cordova Bridge or the "free bridge"). Simply turn south on US 54 off of Interstate 10 and follow the signs across the bridge into Juarez. There is no charge for crossing this bridge either direction.


No matter which bridge you cross, or how you cross, the procedure at Mexican immigration and customs is the same. You will not be required to show a passport, proof of citizenship or obtain any paper work for a trip to Juarez. If you are carrying newly purchased items in excess of $50, you may be required to pay a duty. Be sure to get into the correct lane and declare your goods if necessary.
If you have nothing to declare, get in any of the main lanes and slowly pass through the gate. As you pass through the gate either a red or green light will come on. If you get a green light, just proceed onward unless a uniformed officer should wave you into a lane. If you get a red light, usually accompanied by a bell, you will need to pull into a check lane and get checked for contraband.
Don't let any of this unnerve you. Mexican customs officers are normally very easy going and, as long as you don't have anything illegal, the worst that might happen is that you might get hit-up for a little mordita (the little bite). This is not likely to happen, but if is does, just look at it as a tip for good service. Going into Mexico under the worst conditions is much easier than coming back to the US.
If you are going further south than Juarez, see the information under Other Places to Go.


Where can you find a country with the largest city in the world, fantastic beaches, mountains, deserts, rain forests, ruins of ancient civilizations, a canyon twice the size of the Grand Canyon, floating gardens, primitive Indian tribes, pyramids, cities with European flair and architecture, migrating butterflies and whales, active volcanoes, mummies, castles, world class museums, affordable hotels, incredible cuisine, and much more?
The answer of course is Mexico!
For US and Canadian residents, even better news is that all of this is within driving distance (even though you may wish to fly), very affordable, and you don't even need a passport to visit.
Everyone knows about Mexico's great beach resorts. Many of these have been government sponsored and draw thousands of English, French, German, and Japanese speaking visitors every year. The fact is that Mexico's beaches (both Pacific and Caribbean) are some of the finest.
We would encourage anyone looking for a Winter vacation spot to visit any of Mexico's beach resorts. Unfortunately, this is often all that many tourists ever see of this country of marvels.
It is impossible to extol all the virtues of this great country in this forum. All that we can do here is to give you a little insight into a few of our favorite places that are within easy driving range of Juarez. Should you wish to explore more of Mexico, be sure to go to the next page, Other Places to Go on the Web, and order one of the recommended travel guides from Amazon.com.

Near Ciudad Juarez

Samalayuca Sand Dunes

Only 32 miles south of Juarez is the Samalayuca sand dunes . Though only a small part of the Chihuahua Desert, the dunes cover an area of 94 square miles. The area is believed to have been first settled by the Nahuatl Indians from whom the name comes.
The area is known for its' marine fossils and petroglyps drawn on rocks. The blowing winds constantly move these white sand dunes around the area and create a real show as the curtains of sand turn golden in the sun.

Casas Grandes

About 170 from Juarez are the villages of Nuevo Casas Grandes and Casas Grandes. The area is well known for its' famous Paquime Archeological Site as well as the many Mennonite farms in the area. The Mennonites arrived in Mexico in the 1920's and their cheese is sold throughout the country.
The Paquime area flourished for about 300 years between 900 and 1200 AD. The site is known for its' T-shaped doors, water distribution system, and building style some with as many as 5 floors. The area was, and still is, known for its' beautiful pottery production.

Chihuahua and The Copper Canyon

In the center of the State, about 235 miles South of the border, is the State Capital of Chihuahua. This is also the starting point for the Chihuahua-Pacifico Railway that runs through the Copper Canyon on to the Pacific coast town of Los Mochis.
We highly recommend spending a day in Chihuahua seeing the sights such as the former home of Pancho Villa, the State Capital Building, and others. A must see is Copper Canyon. The first class train departs daily at 6 am from the station behind the old State Prison.
The train spends the morning climbing into the mountains arriving in the small village of Creel about 11 am. This is the land of the Tarahumara Indians, the most primitive in North America. Many still live in cave dwellings and speak their own unique language.
The next stop is Divisadero on the rim of the Canyon. Though not as famous as its' sister in Arizona, the Copper Canyon is twice the size and nearly twice as deep as the Grand Canyon. Be sure to buy a few of the delicious gorditas sold by the Indian cooks in Divisadero, then sit back for the incredible ride along the rim of the canyon until you arrive in Los Mochis late that evening. This has got to be one of the most remarkable rail trips in the world going from desert, to mountain, traversing the rim of the canyon, through 86 tunnels, across 37 bridges, and finally arriving on the Pacific coast in somewhat more than half a day.
If you have a few extra days, catch the ferry boat from the harbor just a few miles from Los Mochis and go to La Paz, Baja California Sur. If you're here in Winter, be sure to watch for the migrating Gray Whales or catch one of the tour boats in La Paz for that purpose.