April 15, 2019
by David Ryan
4 Comments

Wandering Around El Paso on a Streetcar

Long before automobiles took over our streets, urban dwellers got around by streetcar or on foot. By the end of the 1960s most American cities had surrendered to the automobile and converted what remained of their streetcar lines to buses. By 1970 the list of U.S. cities with streetcars was down to eight: San Francisco, New Orleans, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Newark, Boston, and El Paso, Texas. Most of the remaining streetcar lines had stretches of private right-of-way and were an integral component of their city’s mass transit network.

El Paso’s streetcar line ran exclusively on the street. It survived because it provided an efficient connection between Ciudad Juarez in Mexico and downtown El Paso, Texas. It was the only international streetcar line in the world and was never converted to buses because the transit company’s franchise charter with Juarez only called for streetcars.

Unfortunately, from the point of view of Juarez merchants, the service was too efficient as it made it too easy for Juarez residents to shop in downtown El Paso. In 1973, at the merchants urging, the Juarez city government shut the line down on their side of the Rio Grande river. With that, the line soon shut down on both sides of the Rio Grande and the streetcars were taken to a desert storage facility.

El Paso’s distinction of having the only International streetcar line was never forgotten and many people talked about reviving the service. One of those was Peter Svarzbein, an El Paso resident studying art in New York City. For his Master’s Degree art project, he combined public, visual, and performance art to create an advertising campaign complete with  posters, videos, murals, and even a mascot/spokesperson making guest appearances to encourage you to take the completely fictitious “El Paso Transnational Trolley” across the border. Campaign slogans included, “Let Us Take You Home on Either Side of the Border” and “Here to Make the Border Safe Again.”

Here’s one of Peter’s posters!

Continue Reading →

March 17, 2019
by David Ryan
1 Comment

60 Hikes Albuquerque Updates

This is a quick blog post for some updates on 60 Hikes within 60 Miles: Albuquerque.

  • The book is now available in local bookstores
  • Over 17 book events have be scheduled! Click on the Events tab to see if any are convenient for you.
  • The first public event will be next Saturday, March 23 at 7:00pm at Tractor Brewing, 1800 4th Street NW, Albuquerque. It’s an Albuquerque REI offsite event. You can have dinner and drink beer while I show pictures of all the great places you can hike! Hope you can come.
  • Any finally if you need any reason to get out, check out the picture below. It’s a picture of bald eagle that my wife Claudia took while we were hiking in the Rio Grande Bosque (Hikes: 4, 11, and 13) with the dogs. If you’re interested in the Bosque, check out previous blog post about the porcupines.

February 25, 2019
by David Ryan
3 Comments

Wandering Through the Bosque in Early Spring

February 2 is much more than Groundhog Day. It is the midpoint between the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox. Groundhog Day itself is derived from the religious feast of Candlemas and has roots going back way further. In a time when your life depended upon the natural rhythm of the seasons, it was extremely important to be aware of the coming changes and to note critical milestones with special celebrations. (Halloween shares the same distinction as it is the midpoint between the Fall Equinox and the Winter Solstice.)

The Rio Grande Bosque (cottonwood forest) is a great place to walk anytime of the year. There is always something special to see and no better place to observe the change and cycle of seasons. The bosque is featured in Hikes 4, 11, and 13 of the just released 3rd Edition of 60 Hikes within 60 Miles: Albuquerque.

As you enter the bosque, if you’re fortunate, you might see a flock of sandhill cranes flying overhead. The cranes begin heading north from their Winter feeding grounds in the central Rio Grande valley of New Mexico right around Groundhog Day and will continue to do so until the last stragglers leave in early March.

If you look toward the ground, there is a good chance that you’ll see new growth starting to sprout. And if you cast your gaze toward the trees, you might notice a tinge of life in the branches as the trees slowly wake up from their dormancy and start pumping nutrients to their far branches. The branches will soon have buds and blossoms to start a new cycle of seasons.

As you can see new growth is popping up everywhere.

Continue Reading →