Ysleta is a neighborhood in the city of El Paso where US Route 80 once crossed through along Alameda Avenue. Ysleta is one of the oldest settlements in Texas having been officially founded as La Misión de San Antonio de Ysleta del Sur in 1680. Ysleta was once the El Paso County seat from 1873-1883 and is heavily tied to the history of the Tigua tribe. Ysleta was annexed into the modern city of El Paso during 1955. US Route 80 would be relocated to Interstate 10 in the El Paso area during 1969 and replaced largely with Texas State Highway 20. US Route 80 can be seen passing through Ysleta along Alameda Avenue on the 1939 United States Geological Survey map of the Ysleta area.
Part 1; the history of US Route 80 in Ysleta
Ysleta del sur Pueblo (Ysleta) presently is a neighborhood in the city of El Paso. What became Ysleta was initially settled in 1675 as a refugee camp by members of Tigua tribe who fled from Quarai Pueblo amid the skirmishes borne out of the Pueblo Revolt in northern New Mexico. La Misión de San Antonio de Ysleta del Sur (Mission Ysleta) was established during 1680 by Spanish governor Antonio de Otermín and Franciscan missionary Francisco de Ayeta. Ysleta having been founded during the era of New Spain is the oldest community in what is now Texas with a partially European origin.
Ysleta was part of the larger Camino Real de Tierra Adentro. Camino Real de Tierra Adentro was the northernmost of the four major "Royal Roads" of New Spain. Camino Real de Tierra Adentro linked Mexico City northward to San Juan Pueblo over an approximately 1,600-mile course.
When Ysleta was settled it was located approximately one mile south of the Rio Grande. The original Ysleta Mission was a mud log design constructed by Tigua laborers during 1682. The original Mission was replaced with a permanent adobe structure during 1691. During a 1740 flood Mission Ysleta was destroyed but the structure was rebuilt on higher ground by 1744.
During 1821 Mission Ysleta was formally folded into Mexico at the conclusion of the Mexican War of Independence. Floods during 1829 and 1831 would shift the course of the Rio Grande to a mile south of Mission Ysleta. The Republic of Texas would claim the lands north of the Rio Grande during 1836 during the Texas Revolution. During 1845 the Republic of Texas would cede power to the United States via annexation and became a State.
During the late 1850s Mission Ysleta was rebuilt on an elevated position at the grounds it currently resides. Mission Ysleta would become a stop of the Butterfield Overland Mail Route from 1858-61 leading up to the onset of the American Civil War.
Following the Civil War, El Paso County would organize during 1871. Ysleta would attempt successfully to obtain the El Paso County from San Elizario during an 1873 vote and would incorporate as a city during 1880. The county seat being located in Ysleta would face numerous avenues of opposition due to it being tribal community. Ysleta would be bypassed to the north by the Southern Pacific Railroad during 1881 and would lose the county seat to El Paso during 1883. The transfer of the El Paso County seat is marred in controversy due to claims that the then village cast three time as many votes as it had in population. The city of Ysleta would ultimately dissolve during 1895.
Fire severely damaged Mission Ysleta during 1907 which led to the structure being rebuilt during 1908. During the Auto Trail era Ysleta would be located along Texas State Highway 1 which was known as the Texarkana-Dallas-Fort Worth-El Paso Highway. Ysleta can be seen as part of the Bankhead Highway, Central Texas Highway, F.F.F. Highway, and Old Spanish Trail on the 1924 Rand McNally Auto Trails Map of Texas.
On November 11, 1926, the American Association of State Highway Officials (AASHO) would commission the US Route System. Texas State Highway 1 west of Dallas to the New Mexico state line would become part of what was assigned as US Route 80. US Route 80 would pass through downtown Ysleta along Alameda Avenue.
US Route 80 can be seen passing through Ysleta on the 1927 National Map Company Map of Texas.
US Route 80 can be seen passing through Ysleta along Alameda Avenue on the 1939 United States Geological Survey map of the Ysleta area.
Ysleta would be annexed into the city of El Paso during 1955. Following the emergence of the Interstate System after the passage of the 1956 Federal Highway Aid Act the alignment of US Route 80 in El Paso County would be shifted to Interstate 10. Much of the original routing of US Route 80 including Alameda Avenue in Ysleta would become part of Texas State Highway 20 during April 1969. Texas State Highway 20 can be seen passing through Ysleta on the 1983 United States Geological Survey Map of El Paso.
Part 2; exploring former US Route 80 in Ysleta
Former US Route 80 intersected Mission Ysleta at the southeast corner of Alameda Avenue and Zaragoza Road. The church at Mission Ysleta is adorned with a Texas State Historical Survey Committee marker and a plaque denoting it was constructed in 1682 by the Tigua tribe. The current church facade and tower is the same which was erected in 1908.
The bell at Mission Ysleta Plaza is one of the surviving originals. The current bell in the church tower was installed during 1925.
During 2000 the National Park Service designed "El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro National Historic Trail" over the 404 miles of Camino Real de Tierra Adentro located in the United States. Within Ysleta the historic trail follows Socorro Road, Zaragoza Road, Alameda Avenue (former US Route 80/current Texas State Highway 20) and Padres Drive.
Pictured is Alameda Avenue westbound passing through downtown Ysleta. Downtown Ysleta resembles an aesthetic more commonly found in Mexico due to the numerous adobe structures.
As noted above the historic trail of Camino Real de Tierra Adentro departs from the former routing of US Route 80 via Padres Drive. Alameda Avenue continues westbound towards downtown El Paso and becomes Texas Avenue.