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Nonetheless, in the early years of Spanish power, several attempts were made which successfully colonized areas north for some decades.Being a grassland then, the Hispanic civilian and military population, and the small community of Spanish friars and their Amerindian wards ranched the area and developed small scale but successful agriculture consisting of vineyards and fruits.
The image to the right shows Downtown El Paso and Juárez, with the Juárez Mountains in the background.
The earliest known cultures in the region were maize farmers.
At the time of the arrival of the Spanish the Manso, Suma, and Jumano tribes populated the area and were subsequently incorporated into the Mestizo culture in the area, along with immigrants from central Mexico, captives from Comanchería, and genízaros of various ethnic groups. Spanish explorer Don Juan de Oñate was the first European explorer known to have arrived at the Rio Grande near El Paso, in 1598, celebrating Thanksgiving Mass there on April 30, 1598 (several decades before the Pilgrims' Thanksgiving).
Fort Bliss, one of the largest military complexes of the United States Army, lies to the east and northeast of the city, with training areas extending north into New Mexico, up to the White Sands Missile Range and neighboring Holloman Air Force Base in Alamogordo.
The Franklin Mountains extend into El Paso from the north and nearly divide the city into two sections, the western half forming the beginnings of the Mesilla Valley and with the eastern slopes connecting in the central business district at the south end of the mountain range.
Instead, Spanish settlement was centered on El Paso del Norte (the present day Ciudad Juárez).