Prohibition in El Paso

Houston and Texas Central Railroad Map

Happy 21st Amendment Day (or the Repeal of Prohibition). 79 years ago today, Congress ratified the 21st amendment which repealed the 18th Amendment banning the manufacturing, sale or transport of alcohol in the United States.

Here’s a fun story.

In 1918, when the 18th Amendment was ratified, there was a healthy bar and saloon scene in the western railroad town of El Paso, Texas. On March 5, 1918 (when Prohibition was ratified), El Paso, along with the rest of the country, turned out the lights and closed their doors for, what seemed like, the final time ever.

The next morning, across the border in Juárez, Mexico, these bars and saloons re-opened a mere few miles away from their original location. This actually served to be a boost in the economy for both El Paso and Juárez, which was wracked with crime (still is, just cartel crime now!).

Houston and Texas Central Railroad Map
Houston and Texas Central Railroad Map. Source:

For El Paso, it suddenly meant that the railroad that went through town and stopped there as a breaking point would actually develop into a tourism line. More people making the journey from east to west, or vica versa, took the Union Pacific railroad that took a northerly route through Kansas and Colorado. The El Paso line was less-used… until Prohibition.

Tourists and travelers could take a night off on the El Paso train line and head over into Mexico to get their drink on and get back on the train to continue their journey the next day.

See? Told you it was a fun story. And a fun Texas story at that.