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The twin cities of Eagle Pass, Texas and Piedras Negras, Coahuila, Mexico are located on the Rio Grande River near its juncture with the Mexican Rio Escondido. These cities are approximately 140 miles southwest of San Antonio and about 260 miles north of Monterrey. |
Historically, the twin cities are parallel. The Camino Real (Old San Antonio Road) crossed the Rio Grande about 30 miles below the site of the twin cities near the present location of Guerrero, Coahuila. Historically, The Camino Real was the main route of communications between Texas and Mexico and was used by explorers, military expeditions, etc. almost exclusively during the last part of the seventeenth, through the eighteenth and during a part of the nineteenth century. Spanish missionaries used this route in establishing the missions in the San Antonio and East Texas areas. The route was used by Santa Anna and his army in 1836 for their expeditions into Texas that led to the historical battles of the Alamo and San Jacinto during the Texas Revolution.
When Texas became an independent nation, legal trade between Mexico and Texas was stopped by the Mexican government. Clandestine trade continued, however, between San Antonio and Mexican villages along the Rio Grande and a route was established to the north of the Camino Real. This route crossed the Rio Grande near the present location of the twin cities at a fort originally called Paso de Los Adjuntos. A military camp and observation post was established near this crossing in 1848 by a company of Texas militia commanded by Captain John A. Veatch. The location was referred to as Eagle Pass in Escondido. The shift in names prevailed and a year later a trading post was established at Eagle Pass by San Antonio Merchant James Campbell. Fort Duncan was established at a site about two miles up the river as part of a chain of frontier military posts being established across Texas at that time. Shortly after the establishment of Fort Duncan, caravans of "Forty-Niners" en route to the California gold fields by the Mexico route began arriving in the area for refitting and replenishing supplies. Some of these immigrants camped at Campbell's store and crossed the Rio Grande at Eagle Pass. Due to the protection afforded by the military garrison at Fort Duncan most of the caravans camped adjacent to the military post and a thriving, bustling settlement known as "California Camp" was established. A townsite was laid out in this area by John Twohig in 1850 and named Eagle Pass. The original Eagle Pass, two miles down river, was eventually abandoned.
The Mexican government established a military garrison opposite Fort Duncan in 1850 and settlers from nearby river villages moved to the vicinity of the fort to found the village of Piedras Negras. Thus, the founding of today's twin cities of Eagle Pass and Piedras Negras basically resulted from the establishment of the current friendly, cooperative relationship that is the basis for the "Twin City" concept.
The current close relationship between Eagle Pass and its sister city in Mexico required a long, tedious effort that was marred by many events in our 125-year history. In the early days Indian raids were frequent, communications were poor and the area was a haven for rustlers, outlaws, and other assorted types of border "bad men" who used the laws on national sovereignty to their individual advantages. In later years border incidents between the mother nations, the Mexican revolution, gun running and many other events affected the relationship and growth of the Twin Cities—some favorable and many unfavorably.
First U.S. settlement at site on Rio Grande began during Mexican War with establishment of temporary Camp Eagle Pass. In 1849 permanent Fort Duncan was founded. Today it is an international gateway and tourist center, seat of Maverick County, retail shipping center, and a 40,000-acre irrigated winter-garden region. The International bridge to Piedras Negras, just across Rio Grande, connects U.S. 57 with Mexico 57 that leads to Monclova, Saltillo, San Luis Potosi and Mexico City. Portions of the route pass through scenic areas of teh Sierra Madres. Sportsmen enjoy fishing for the famous (and huge) Rio Grande catfish as well as hunting for white-tailed deer and upland game birds.
Eight miles south of the city is an 125-acre site being developed as federal reservation for Kickapoo Indians, a tribe that for years had special border-crossing permission.
Established 1849 and occupied by three companies of the 1st U.S. Infant Regiment. During Civil War, the post was occupied by Confederate troops of the Frontier Regiment. Federal troops reoccupied post 1868; it remained under military authority until 1916. Many restored stone buildings form the center of the municipal park and spacious country club.
Piedras Negras, Coahuila, Mexico
The Mexican city across Rio Grande from Eagle Pass has a population over 200,000. Handicraft items at bargain prices highlight many shops and traditional Mexican market areas. Restaurants and popular night clubs, bullfights at intervals throughout summer months are also popular attractions in Piedras Negras.