Everything in Texas is big and El Paso with a population of 850,000 is no exception. This vibrant city along the Rio Grande has an urban sprawl that stretches 200 miles out from the downtown. It’s bordered by New Mexico and the Mexican state of Chihuahua. Over the last 40 years El Paso has grown in leaps and bounds with businesses locating there. In 1980, the famous Lucchese Boot Company moved from San Antonio and set up its growing business in El Paso.
Salvatore and Joseph Lucchese, shoe makers by trade, arrived in Galveston Texas by boat from Italy in 1883. The brothers traveled to San Antonio where they set up the Lucchese Boot Shop. Soon they were making boots for the U.S. Calvary School at Fort Sam Houston. The cost back then – $4 a pair.
Sal and Joe were joined by their brothers Michael and Antonio making four artisan bootmakers in the shop. Soon the brothers were hand stitching boots not just for the Calvary but for cowboys, ranch hands, rodeo bronc riders, and cattle herders.
When the company started the basic leather was cowhide which is still used, along with alligator, lizard, anaconda, ostrich, python and even shark skins.
Today, for every pair of boots they make Lucchese artisans, some of whom have worked for the company for 40 years, still do everything by hand, cutting, designing, hammering, and stitching.
In 1980 after almost a hundred years in San Antonio the business moved to El Paso. Little did the Lucchese brothers know that their humble beginnings would mushroom into a world class boot making business. Or that Lucchese boots would be worn by Presidents of the United States; Lyndon B. Johnson, George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush. And also, by entertainers such as John Wayne, Willie Nelson, Roy Rogers and Dolly Parton.
Who Wears Lucchese?
You don’t have to be famous to own a pair of Lucchese boots. If you have the time (three months or longer) and the money meet with a staff member, be fitted and measured, and choose the type of skin and the design you want for your boots. Keep in mind, they no longer cost $4 a pair. Or, go to their store and let the knowledgeable staff fit you for a pair off the shelves.
El Paso, like everything else in Texas, is big. You can drive for 200 miles and still be within the city limits. The public transportation system, Sun Metro, covers a wide area but a car is necessary for getting around outside the downtown.
Along with the Lucchese boot factory, here are a few other reasons to visit El Paso.
If you’re the outdoors type head to Franklin Mountains State Park. With 27,000 acres there’s tent camping, rock climbing, mountain biking and hiking on 100 miles of trails.
Lions and Tigers and Bears
Kids (and adults) will get a kick out of the antics of the meercats at the El Paso Zoo. It’s not just about animals although there are lots of them. There’s a train to ride around the zoo, treehouses to climb, water spouts to splash in and giraffes to feed. Learn about the zoo’s animals and birds at the Wildlife Amphitheater.
El Paso History
Delve into El Paso’s five centuries of history while following the Mission Trail stretching nine miles between San Elizario Presidio Chapel, Socorro Mission and Ysleta Mission. Get a map at the Mission Valley Visitors Center.
In downtown be sure to take in the Las Plazas District, made up of five plazas, this is the core of the city’s arts scene. Take your pick of things to see and do, the El Paso Museum of Art, El Paso Museum of History outdoor art sculptures and murals, live entertainment and the Plaza Theater Performing Arts Center.
Thanks to Visit El Paso for hosting my travels. All opinions are 100% mine and unbiased.
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This article was written by Frances J. Folsom.
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