SOCORRO, Texas (KTSM) — In the quaint town of Socorro, Texas, a hidden gem of historical significance awaits discovery.
El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro linked Mexico City to northern New Mexico, spanning approximately 1,600 miles and acting as a conduit for trade and cultural exchange. It passed right through Socorro, and historian and President of the Cultural Heritage Society of the Camino Real Al Barego asserts the trail’s history should not be confined to exhibits and museums but rather experienced as a vibrant part of everyday life.
‘We want to continue talking about it, telling about it, experiencing it every day,” Barego said.
From southern Chihuahua to Mexico City, half of the road is designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site, encompassing 55 sites and six entire cities along its route.
There’s an intriguing tale of a peculiar bridge along the way named “Quita Calzones.”
“It’s called something funny — ‘Quita Calzones’ — which means ‘they take your underwear’ on that bridge because when people would go through there, they’d rob them because they knew they were coming up north,” Barego said.
Delving deeper into Socoro’s historical tapestry, we find ourselves in the Casa Ortiz, an architectural masterpiece that dates back to the late 1700s, possibly predating the existence of the United States. Barego suggested this structure may have served as a “paraje” or rest stop along the Camino Real. This remarkable building, situated in the heart of Socorro, attests to the town’s pivotal role as a stopping point along this historic route.
While Casa Ortiz stands proudly alongside the Camino Real, Socoro boasts a plethora of other must-see historical sites. Barego showed the original location of the mission, where visitors can witness historical plaques and gaze upon a building that could potentially be one of the oldest structures in Texas, as it is believed to have been constructed during the same period as the mission, around 1680. The significance of this building cannot be overstated, as it offers a tangible connection to the earliest days of settlement in the region, Barego said.
Barego further revealed the story of the priest’s house, a small dwelling that miraculously survived the devastating flood of 1829, unlike the original mission. It is elevated approximately 10 feet higher than the spot where the mission once stood. The flood, an event of profound consequence, altered the landscape dramatically and transformed Socoro into an island for about two decades, Barego said.
In 1849, as Socorro transitioned to become part of the Union, the delineation of the international border became a pressing matter. Two channels emerged from the flood, with Socorro straddling the divide. Ultimately, Barego said the decision was made to select the deepest channel, leading Socorro to find itself on the American side of the border.