From June 1 through August 31, the consumption or possession of alcoholic beverages without a permit is prohibited. During Music Under the Stars concerts, alcohol may be purchased within the memorial boundary.
Many visitors stop by our visitor center with questions and to view our introductory video in the museum. Chamizal FYI offers all visitors the chance to view our introductory videos. Our rangers are currently working on safety videos as well.
At the end of the Mexican-American war, a boundary was drawn from the Pacific Ocean to the Gulf of Mexico. A 1,000 mile section of this boundary was defined as the deepest channel of the Rio Grande. Spring floods often caused the Rio Grande to shift its course and the treaty negotiators tried to make provisions for these changes. If the change happened slowly through the erosion of the riverbed, then the deepest channel of the river would continue to be the international boundary. The border would move with the river. If the changes happened quickly from the floods cutting new channels, then the old channel would continue to be the border, even if now dry and distant from the river. As the river meandered and snaked over flood plains it created hundreds of these bancos, sometimes even double bancos, double S-shaped curves. Changes were sometimes difficult to quantify in terms of the treaty. Within a few years, the river had strayed far from its original boundaries leaving tracts of land on both sides in dispute.
For hundreds of miles, the Rio Grande separates the United States and Mexico, forming the international border. For a century, the changing course of that river was the cause of international disagreements. In the mid-19th century, a dispute arose concerning a section of privately-owned farmland between the settlements that grew into El Paso and Ciudad Juarez. Beginning in 1895, Mexico laid formal claim to the tract of land that became known as "The Chamizal'. The Mexican claim led to counterclaims by the United States and over the years the dispute became a major impasse. This led to prolonged negotiation, arbitration, and further disagreements in the first half of the 20th century. By this time, Chamizal had grown into an international issue that strained diplomatic relations. Compounding the already complex issue was the tract of land known as "Cordova Island", a detached part of Mexico on the north side of the Rio Grande, which adjoined the Chamizal tract. With the title to Chamizal disputed and Mexico's Cordova Island protruding into El Paso, the situation demanded resolution. In 1962, U.S. President John F Kennedy and Mexico's President Adolfo Lopez Mateos moved to break the deadlock. A plan was developed to construct a new concrete-lined channel for the Rio Grande that would bisect Chamizal and Cordova. All lands south of the channel would go to Mexico, and the land to the north would go to the United States. After Kennedy's death in 1963, President Lyndon B Johnson completed negotiations which resulted in the Chamizal Treaty of 1963. The final agreement was signed in 1967 and water was diverted into the new channel the following year. It was not just parcels of land that were affected by the Treaty. About 5,000 residents of El Paso who had occupied the disputed territory were forced to relocate, along with businesses and industries. The U.S. Congress set aside a portion of the land acquired from Mexico as Chamizal National Memorial. Here the National Park Service presents activities that celebrate the cultural traditions of the people who share the borderlands and we commemorate the peaceful settlement of a long-standing border dispute. One of our purposes is to promote respect and understanding among people of different cultures by sharing art forms. Ever since the Memorial opened to the public, we have helped local performing groups, groups from across the country, and from other countries as well, present music, plays, dance, and other kinds of performances. The staff of the Memorial truly believes that by sharing our art and our culture we learn more about each other and become better friends. Welcome to Chamizal National Memorial.
Did You Know?
Depending on the time of year you visit Chamizal National Memorial, you may see up to four different species of hummingbirds. These include the Broadtailed (pictured), Rufous, Black-Chinned, and Anna’s hummingbirds.