The third and final article this month issue is entitled “Along Our Side of the Mexican Border” and was written by Frederick Simpich, former American Consul at Nogales, Mexico, and author of several articles including “Where Adam and Eve Lived”, “Mystic Nedjef, the Shia Mecca”, and “The Rise of the New Arab Nation”. The article contains nine black-and-white photographs, of which six are full-page in size. The article also contains a sketch map of the U. S./Mexican border on page 75.
Sketch Map courtesy of Philip Riviere
The phrase “Mexican Border” hinted at turmoil and intrigue, at wild night rides of calvary patrols, and at gun-runners and smugglers. It also suggested brown-faced, snappy-eyes girls in red skirts peddling tamales, women washing clothes, babies, and dishes in irrigation ditches, and burros, hens, and pigs foraging about adobe doorways. For years papers had run news stories telling of turbulence and strife, of adventure, romance, and intrigue. Hardy a week went by without a front-page story breaking somewhere along the Mexican border. No region of North America was so often mentioned or more widely misunderstood. There was even confusion as regards to place – a large number of towns in the Southwest U. S. had Spanish names, and frequently there were identical town names in Mexico.
School children were taught that a border was an imaginary line between two countries. However, to many fugitives this line was very real, the quick were safe in Mexico while the tardy sat in jails along that long line of muddy water and stone obelisks that marked where the U. S. quit and Mexico began. More than one border bad man “bit the dust” because he didn’t know just where the line was or didn’t reach it in time. The social separation at the border was sharp and startling. It cut Americans off abruptly from another people who showed a cross-section of diverse civilizations, with different manners, habits, standards, and traditions. But not all the people along this line are Yankee or Mexican. Chinese were settled here, on the Mexican side. There were also Turks, Japanese, and twenty different Indian tribes speaking different languages in Mexico. Thousands of settlers migrated to this borderland each year, mostly from the Midwest and the South. The European immigrants that poured into Atlantic ports never made it this far, stopping in the manufacturing centers of the East. In Texas and California native-born generations were found, but in the newer States of Arizona and New Mexico most residents, barring children, came from other States.
The 1,800-mile trip along that crooked, historic line was rough and difficult, and had been made by few people. Some of the wildest and least known regions of our country were along that border. The Ajo and the Yuma sector were examples of those regions. From the Gulf of Mexico up to El Paso, the Rio Grande formed the boundary between the U. S. and Mexico. From there to the Pacific coast the line was marked with stone or iron monuments, so set that one was suppose to be visible from another. There was a short break in that marked line at the Colorado River. The Rio Grande caused problems for both countries. During bad floods the river squirmed about in a lively manner. What was Mexican soil one day was Texas soil the next, and vice versa. When there was heavy snow in the mountains of New Mexico and Colorado, the spring thaw flooded the Rio Grande with weirs, gates, and bridges were washed away and residents were forced to flee to the highlands.
Railroads cut this long border line at Brownsville, Laredo, Eagle Pass, and El Paso in Texas; at Douglas, Naco, and Nogales in Arizona; and Tia Juana in California. Only four of those railroads penetrated the interior of Mexico – Laredo, Eagle Pass, El Paso, and Nogales. Considering Mexico’s size, it had comparatively few miles of railroads and there was no line traversing its northern frontier east and west like America’s Southern Pacific. Mexicans were restless. The peons liked to ride. They swarmed up and down those lines, running to and fro, apparently as aimless as the inhabitants of a disturbed anthill.
One could appreciate the size of Texas when one looked at the length of its border with Mexico. Its area was more than double that of the British Isles. And one realized the emptiness, too, when travelling through some of its border regions, where the population is less than two per square mile. If one took all the people in the U. S. and put them in Texas, it would be scarcely two thirds as crowded as England. No section of the border had seen so much adventure, tragedy, and turbulent activity as Texas. The flags of France, Spain, and Mexico had flown over it. For a time, it flew its own Lone Star, and also the Confederate flag. Texas had cast out its devils; it was absolutely bone dry long before July 1, 1919 [Prohibition]. In 1920 only the police can tote guns, poker was taboo, and even bridge at a penny a point could land you in the “hoosegow” – Texan for juzgado (jail).
In Brownsville one heard more Spanish than English because most of the 8,000 people who lived there were Mexican. Until the railroad came, a few years prior, this remote, isolated region was practically unknown to Americans at large. It was still a wild, thinly populated, stock-growing district. The natives still plowed and hauled with ox-teams. Zachary Taylor built a fort by Brownsville in 1846. When his men got into a shooting scrap with Mexican soldiers from Matamoras, they started the Mexican War, and the Rio Grande became the boundary between the two republics. Up the river from Brownsville was Laredo, the most important border town in south Texas. Here on found ruins of old stone houses and tanks built by Spanish planters, generations ago. Laredo had a dramatic past but, by 1920, the people had turned from romance to onions. They shipped 2,500 carloads in one season. It wasn’t until the International and Great Northern Railway extended its line from San Antonio; Laredo was shut off from the rest of Texas. But in 1920 it was the main port of entry for traffic from Mexico City, over the Mexican National Railway.
Eagle Pass, on up the Rio Grande, was a favorite camping spot for the California gold hunters of ’49. Yankee freighters from St. Louis used to drive though there for Chihuahua and Durango. Worn, weather-beaten carts could still be seen on occasion, abandoned in the brush. Those recalled the transportation in early days when it took a year to get freight from New York to Durango. By 1920 a branch of the Southern Pacific strikes the border at Eagle Pass, and from the Mexican town of Piedras Negras (Black Rock), just opposite, a line of the Mexican National ran south into one of Mexico’s most fertile regions. This gave Eagle Rock a brisk trade. No spot on the whole border afforded more of impressive grandeur than the region around the mouth of the Pecos. That turbulent, yellow stream roared into the Rio Grande near the town of Del Rio, foaming along the bottom of a steep-walled canyon worn hundreds of feet deep in solid rock. The Southern Pacific crossed the canyon, near the border, on one of the greatest steel trestles ever built.
At the old fort at Camp Verde, north of Uvalde, was a relic of one of the oddest experiments ever made by our government. It was an Arab khan, in ruins. It once was an exact replica of the rectangular adobe caravansaries built along the caravan trails from Bagdad to Teheran. Back in 1856, when Jefferson Davis was Secretary of War, the famous experiment was made with camels for army transport use between Texas and California. Seventy-five camels were imported, along with six Arabs and a Bedouin camel doctor, from Smyrna to Texas. The experiment failed and the camels were sold to zoological parks or set loose in the desert. Even in the authors time, a prospector would claim he saw a wild camel. As one followed the border west, oaks, pines, and underbrush decreased, aridity increased, and cacti lifted their thorny heads. Cattle, goats, and sheep were pastured in large numbers; but except for irrigated areas along the river, the country was thinly settled and underdeveloped. Border counties like Brewster, Presidio, and El Paso were larger than some smaller eastern States. Windmills were everywhere.
El Paso (“The Pass”), the great border mart of west Texas, was set on the edge of a rich stretch of the Rio Grande Valley. It stood at the point of intersection of two old highways, the first channels of traffic established by the white men of America. A popular automobile trail to the Pacific coast ran though it. Coronado, pathfinder for border tourists, blazed the way in 1540, on his march to Santa Fe. Long ago El Paso was the headquarters for the Spanish Government in that part of America. El Paso was the only large city from “San Antone” to Los Angeles, a ride of 1,500 dry, dusty miles. It was well served by both American and Mexican railways. Its merchants bought and sold goods from hundreds of miles below the Rio Grande. Despite the arid country surrounding it and its occasional blinding dust storms, El Paso’s climate was exceptionally good, owing to high elevation. Summer showers afforded a rainfall of about ten inches. The soil was fertile in the valleys cutting the adjacent plateau country, and good crops were grown wherever ample irrigation was possible.
The largest irrigation reservoir anywhere was the great Elephant Butte dam, which stored more water than the world-famous Aswan dam on the Nile. The dam was built on the Rio Grande just above El Paso at a point in New Mexico. The water it held could cover Massachusetts six inches deep, or fill an 11” standpipe from El Paso to the moon. Enough water was stored to last through four dry seasons and to irrigate 300 square miles. By international agreement, a part of that water went to irrigate land in Mexico. Fort Bliss, one of America’s largest permanent military barracks, was built just outside of El Paso.
Juarez, El Paso’s sister city across the Rio Grande, like most Mexican border towns, was known for its pitched battles and its bizarre methods of entertaining American visitors. Its prosperity was drawn from Yankee tourist patronage. A wooden bridge spanned the river there, and El Paso streetcars looped over into Mexico, when it was safe. Thousands of tourists swarmed across the bridge each year to play the races, keno, or chuck-a-luck. They would mail bullfight or ballerina picture postcards to home folks to show they had been “gay, blithe, and devilish in foreign parts”. It was a typical Mexican frontier town of squat, one-story adobe houses, plastered and painted light blue or pink. Also, there were tiendas, plazas, casinos, bull rings, Chinese restaurants, curio shops, and often a few lurking American derelicts waiting there till the sheriffs in their home towns were dead. Like most other border towns, the peons of Juarez made their living by working in the adjacent American town. From Juarez, Mexican railways led off south and connected with most important interior cities.
From the point Monument No. I, where the boundary line crawled out of the Rio Grande, at the southeast corner of New Mexico, it struck west into a dry and empty wilderness. For forty miles along that march the traveler must carry his own water. Near Columbus a few small trees appeared, and here too, a wagon trail from Deming down to the American Mormon colonies in Chihuahua crossed the border. To the west were the rough, hostile foothills of the Dog Mountains. Near there, in the San Luis Range, the line reached a point 6,600 feet above sea level, marking the continental divide. Trough that same San Luis Pass ran an old emigrant trail. Slightly west of the 108th meridian, the line turns at a right angle and runs south for a few miles, then turns west again. In the San Bernardino Valley, the line struck the first running water after quitting the Rio Grande – 192 miles to the east. Here rose the Yaqui River, a crooked stream that meandered through the Mexican State of Sonora and the Yaqui Indian zone, and emptied into the Gulf of California below Guaymas. Thousands of cattle found pasture in the San Bernardino Valley, and the ruins of an old Spanish trading post were there.
In the whole 700-mile stretch from the Rio Grande to the Pacific, that line crossed only five permanent running streams. The average annual rainfall throughout its length was only eight inches. The border was first fixed by the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, and subsequently modified by the Treaty of Gadsden. In 1891-1896 a joint commission erected the current monuments. The original heaps of stones were often tampered with. Those modern tombstone-like obelisks were made of rock, where rock was available, or of cast-iron set on concrete pedestals. They were never more than five miles apart. Save for the hamlets of Columbus and Hachita, the New Mexico section of the border was almost uninhabited. Here was where the army chased Geronimo and his Apaches back and forth across that line. Even in 1920, an old-timer told the author a tales of slaying Apaches in his youth. By then, however, Apaches were “tamed”, and were trustworthy, diligent, and industrious farm laborers. The gunmen had gone to the movie studios of California. Wagons along the border had been replaced by big auto-trucks, and the old trails were turned into motor highways full of tourists.
Not long before, coyotes chased horned toads over an empty desert where Douglas now stood. It had libraries, county clubs, theaters, a YMCA, public baths, street-cars, and a first-class hotel. The giant smelters a Douglas had run day and night since they were built, a dozen years prior. They had handled thousands of trainloads of ore from Senora. At night the molten slag being poured threw a great light into the sky, reminiscent of Pittsburgh. During six months in 1916, the smelters handled 131,000,000 pounds of copper, which at 25 cents a pound was worth $32,000,000. Just over the line from Douglas was Agua Prieta, from which point an American-owned railway ran south to the mines at Nacozari. Drab and dusty, Agua Prieta was tumultuous in recent years, experiencing everything from kidnapping, lynching, and robberies to artillery duels with Poncho Villa. Douglas was about 4,000 feet in elevation, and had an annual rainfall of 14 inches. Artesian wells were flowing and tractors were plowing where, ten years before, the land had been empty. Lands in the valleys were quickly being filled with plots purchased directly from the Government by homesteaders, under the Desert Land Act.
West of Douglas, eight miles north of Naco, on the line, was the town of Bisbee. Its main street ran up a deep canyon. Many houses clung like pigeon cotes to the steep hillside. Occasionally, torrents of water tore through Bisbee, with water several feet deep through the lower floors of stores and houses. The Borderland Highway, connecting El Paso, Douglas, and Tucson with California, passed through there. Part of that route was built with prison labor. From Naco, railways ran northwest to Tucson and southwest to Del Rio in Sonora. West from Naco, conspicuous in the vast grassy stretches of the San Pedro Valley, the straight row of stone monuments marched on, and climbed into the wooded Huachuca Range. A few miles to the northwest was the shell of ancient Tombstone. In 1878, Ed Schiefflin, dodging Apaches, slipped into that canyon with his burros and struck the ledge that made him millions, and made Tombstone famous. The mines in the area had colorful names like “Ground Hog” and “Lucky Cuss”. Ore from the latter ran $9,000 a ton. The very name of the town drew the world’s attention to it. Many stories were written of exploits and gunfights, most of them embellished.
Climbing the Santa Cruz River west of Camp Duquesne, the line ran over high, rolling grassy hills scantily covered with stunted oaks. There the line split in half the important border city of Nogales, entry point for all of the trade of the Southern Pacific of Mexico. From that point branch lines also struck off north to Tucson and northeast to Benson. Through this gap in the hills that Nogales filled ran the ancient trail, worn ages ago by Toltecs and Aztecs, and later by Spaniards and Jesuits in their advance from Guadalajara to California. Father Keno passed that way. A few miles north of Nogales, in the Santa Cruz Valley, were the ruins of Tumacacori, a national monument. Nearby was the ancient Presidio of Tubac, where for years a Spanish garrison was kept and whence Don Juan Bautista de Anza set out in 1774 to build a highway to California. It was the same Don Juan who chose the site for San Francisco. By 1920, an American rubber company had bought thousands of acres of land near Tubac to raise guayule on a large scale.
Nogales was positioned 3,800 feet above sea level, and enjoyed a singularly prosperous trade for a town of its size. The exports from Mexico were worth as much as twenty million dollars a year. As at other important border towns, adequate military forces were stationed there, with permanent barracks, hospitals, recreation halls, and stables. Some 12,000 people lived on the American side of the line, and somewhat fewer lived on the Mexican side. For police purposes, a high barbed wire fence was strung along the boundary line there, dividing the twin cities. Nogales had foundries, bonded warehouses, strong banks, daily papers, and clubs. It was surrounded by rich mines and profitable cattle ranches. The “chastely beautiful” old Mission of Xavier del Bac was just south of Tucson, on the Nogales highway. It was pure white, visible for miles in the desert, and was built in the shape of a cross. The peaceful Pimas worked their little farms and came devoutly to mass in this old church, where years before other Pimas slew the priests and tried to destroy the building.
A short ride west of Nogales the due-west trend of the line was broken, and veered northwest by west, straight to the Colorado River, a few miles below Yuma. That part of the boundary was first explored and ran by John Bartlett, after the Gadsden Purchase. No section of the boundary line was so wild, dry, uninhabited, and little known as the stretch from Sasabe to the Yuma desert. Only a few smugglers, Yaqui gun-runners, and the line-riders who hunted them really knew much of this arid, empty waste. After the Gadsden Purchase survey, Congress in 1853 granted money for exploring a railway route from the Mississippi to California. Trains did not run until 31 years later. In 1857, however, mail and passenger stages were started, under a government subsidy of $600,000 a year. That line used 100 Concord stages, 1,000 horses, 500 mules, and about 150 drivers. The fare from St. Louis to San Francisco via that border route was $100.
The part of the trail from Tubac, Arizona to California was worn and old long before the lumbering Concord stages began to use it. A Mexican courier, with messages from Santa Ana to the Governor of California rode from Mexico City to Monterey in 40 days. He was stripped and robbed by the Yumas, and nearly died of thirst and hunger, but he made it. In 1847, General Kearny mapped out the border trail with his “Army of the West”, on his way to attack the Mexicans in California. That made it a main travel route for the forty-niners. Fully 8,000 passed that way, many dying of thirst. Even in 1920, rusted parts of schooners and whitened bones of men and mules were being found by prospector. Kit Carson made a memorable dash across that desert in 1847, with a young army officer named Beale, carrying dispatches from the Fremont party to Washington. That same Beale introduced camels into the desert traffic. By 1920, scores of travelers were motoring along the borderland trails, following old stage routes past historic Tombstone and San Xavier. Most tourists, however, used the Santa Fe trail via the Petrified Forest, Flagstaff, and Needles. Those motor trails were well maintained and amply marked as to direction, distance, and proximity to water and gasoline.
No feature of the trip along the border from El Paso to Nogales was more amazing to the author than the vast numbers of meat-bearing animals he observed. Besides introducing the horse, the Spanish also brought cattle, sheep, and goats. Juan Onate reached the Southwest about 1598. The wealth of mutton and beef in 1920 was due to him. As the country was settled, cattle-raising grew as an industry. There being no fences, the herder or cowboy was developed. From those Mexicans we learned to use the lariat, to cut an animal from the herd, and to brand for identification. However, due to Indian raids, it was years after Americans entered the region before the cattle industry was safe enough to be profitable. After Kit Carson rounded up the Navajos at Bosque Redondo, and Crook defeated the Apaches at Hell’s Hip Pocket, the cowman’s trade was easier. Then the rise of the cattle baron began. Might was the law, and the sheep man and farmer were out of luck. Eventually, law and order intervened, and the cow and sheep men no longer “draw” on sight and start shooting. Feuds between rival cow camps were no more. Border cattlemen had associations organized to secure better freight rates, protective laws, and cooperation in marketing cattle. Many cowmen run herds on both sides of the line. One could tell a Texas cowman from his brother in Arizona by their hat, saddle, cinch, bit, and even talk and mental attitude.
At Yuma, where the Southern Pacific bridged the Colorado, thousands of immigrants were ferried over in days gone by, and Yuma Indians once slew the ferryman and many other whites. South of Yuma, for a short distance, the Colorado River formed the boundary between Mexico and the U. S. The line there ran almost north and south. Below the railroad bridge it quit the river and struck due west across the Imperial Valley Canal, and then into the sand and hills and on into the Imperial Valley. No other part of the U. S. was as hot as there. Often the thermometer stood at more than a hundred at midnight. Day shade temperatures of 125 Fahrenheit were common. Sandstorms blew, covering the auto road west of Yuma in dunes, which had to be excavated when the storm had passed. An Arizona cowman lost an entire herd of cattle to a sandstorm. Curiously, steamboats once ran from San Francisco to Arizona. After the Civil War, steamers plied the California coast, came around the Baja Peninsula into the Gulf, and then up the Colorado River to Yuma. For many years the bulk of the supplies for the Arizona miners came that way. Above Yuma the Laguna Dam was built, and all around the city fertile farms were developed.
Bird life abounded along the Yuma-to Calexico section of the boundary, especially along the river delta. Here one saw ducks, geese, gulls, brown eagles, hawks, herons, roadrunners, elf owls, hummingbirds, and, in the mountains, the giant condor. When sitting erect those birds were sometimes four feet tall. An assortment of dangerous reptiles and insects was scattered along the border trail – rattlers, sidewinders, scorpions, centipedes, tarantulas, and Gila monsters. There were also chuckwalla, gecko, horned toad, and land tortoise. Along the Arizona and New Mexico border, the big Texas “scale quail” had migrated. A few years before it was unknown in those parts. Harry S. Swarth listed 362 species and subspecies of birds in Arizona. Many were transient, visiting only in summer or winter. In springtime the desert areas were bright with flowers. A hundred members of the cactus family provided food for rabbits, gophers, field-rats, birds, beetles, and deer, as well as cattle and burros. If it weren’t for the thorns, those plants would probably have been destroyed by those hungry animals. To aid farmers in getting better crops, a desert laboratory had been set up near Tucson, where a study of desert plant life was carried out. The hope was to develop plants good for food that would grow in areas with no irrigation.
Remnants of the Cocopah Indians inhabited the mud flats of the Colorado, catching fish, growing watermelon, and killing rabbits with clubs. They were mostly indifferent to whites, ignoring them utterly. If one wandered down below the railroad bridge at Yuma, one may have seen a group of naked Yuma Indians sitting in the water up to their necks, the heads covered in mud to keep cool. Near Banning, in the Coahuila settlement, they had a medicine man, but he was almost out of a job. Sugar-coated pills from the traders’ stores and the free medicine the missionaries passed out were more appealing. There houses were made of poles, arrow-weed, palm leaves and willows. Their granaries looked like giant bird nests. The basket-weavers, who made designs of birds, turtles, and lizards, were dying out. A few old tattooed Coahuilas were seen. They used mesquite thorns as needles and rubbed mesquite leaf juice into the cuts, making a greenish tattoo design. They ate chuckwalla, mesquite, and screw-beans ground into powder. By far the most industrious Indians in those parts were the Pimas, of southern Arizona. On their reservation southwest of Tucson they farmed as successfully as the whites. Their work animals were fat, their wagons were freshly painted, and their harnesses were in repair. They pretended not to understand Spanish or English, but in an emergency, many conversed in both.
Of the whole border, the California section was best known to Americans because of denser population, excellent motor trails, and proximity to cities like San Diego and Los Angeles. Below the Salton Sea, the border towns of Calexico and Mexicali sat on opposite sides of the border. These Imperial Valley twin towns were really one city, with their peculiar reverse arrangement of syllables in the words California and Mexico. The incredibly fertile Imperial Valley of California swept north from Calexico to the Salton Sea, more than 200 feet below sea level. It was a thriving community of 60,000 people with farms worth maybe a hundred million dollars. From Calexico the line ran west past Signal Mountain, up the Jacumba Pass over the Lagunas, past the historic border town of Campo, through the towns of Tecate and Tia Juana, and then to the Pacific. Motor highways paralleled the line, one on each side of it, from Calexico/Mexicali to San Diego and Tia Juana. The road on the Mexican side was built as a military highway. The San Diego and Arizona Railway entered Mexico at Tia Juana and went east for a few miles, and then reentered California at Tecate by way of a tunnel under the border, literally an underground trail from Mexico to the U. S. From there it ran east through Campo, over the mountains and down into the Imperial Valley. Another road, the International Railway, entered Mexico at Mexicali, wound east for 60 miles, then crossed back into California just west of the Colorada, near Yuma, where it joined the Southern Pacific line.
Three branches of the U. S. Government cared for the border – the War, Treasury, and Labor Departments – working through the army, customs, and immigration services respectively. The State Department was also represented by consuls at the larger Mexican border towns. They were only concerned with affairs on Mexican soil. Since the end of the Diaz regime, the U. S. had kept troops at all our border towns, with calvary patrols between stations. Those forces assisted local authorities in preserving order and checking the violation of our neutrality laws. They prevented gun-runners and expeditions into Mexico, organized in the U. S., bent on attacking the government of Mexican. There were about 20,000 men stationed along the border, from Brownsville to San Diego. The border was divided into three customs districts – the Texas, the New Mexico-Arizona, and the California. The collectors were stationed at El Paso, Nogales, and Los Angeles. Deputy collector were stationed at the smaller border towns. The collectors had wide discretion. Besides the routine duties of their offices, they kept the Treasury Department informed as to economic conditions on the Mexican side of the line. There was also a group of mounted customs inspectors, the “line riders”. They watched cattle trails and smugglers’ passes through the remote border sections. Frequently enormously valuable cargos of opium were landed on the Mexican west coast, and spirited into the U. S. The profits in this trade were huge, and the tins of opium so small, that the traffic tempted many a crafty man to try to make some quick, easy money. They ranged from small-fry smugglers to armed gang, often having “shoot outs” with the line-riders.
Our immigration inspectors had the most difficult task at the border. They met, questioned, and made a record of every alien man, woman, and child that crossed the border. They collected certain head-taxes, and could refuse admission to certain classes (who could appeal). Many aliens snuck into the country without inspection, crossing the border at lonely, remote points. Many Chinese were smuggled in. American smugglers had for years engaged in running “yellow contraband” from the Mexican coast, using speedy motorboats and landing their hidden passengers as far north as Oakland. As much as $600 a head was sometimes collected on these smuggled immigrants. The turmoil in Mexico had enriched many residents of American border towns. Hundreds of wealthy Mexican families had moved to the border States, depositing their wealth in our banks and businesses. Bordertown banks had paid 80% to 200% dividends. Sensational profits had been made on quick cattle deals and fluctuations in the Mexican exchange. Much money was made and lost in the time of “billumbiques”, fiat money issued by various factions during the Mexican Revolution. This paper money was supposed to be worth two pesos for one dollar. The exchange rate fell to 50 for 1, 100 for 1, and even 1,000 for one.
Mexican Government purchasing agents came in a constant stream to those frontier towns to buy supplies. They brought suitcases of money and bought by the carload. They bought not only animals, uniforms, provisions, motors, vehicles, harness, guns, ammunition, etc., but also school supplies, machinery, tools, and furniture for various government institutions. In the border towns shrewd Americans, who were mere peddlers or “shoe-string” merchants ten years prior, owed handsome homes, sent their children to fashionable schools, and vacationed on California beaches. Border brokers made cash advances to speculative traders, who went to Mexico and bought herds of cattle, cargoes of garbanzos and tomatoes, hides, and ores. Those imports became ready money, once they reached the American side of the line. The handsome margin of profit stayed in the border towns. No part of the U. S. had seen more prosperity in the prior decade than some of those small border ports of entry. The regions of Arizona and New Mexico near the border were not particularly rich except for minerals, yet some firms there handled tremendous volumes of goods each year, most of which was sold in Mexico. Nogales and Douglas had tripled their populations in the prior decade, and thousands of Mexicans had moved across the line, increasing the already high percentage of Mexicans residing in the border States.
At the bottom of the last page of this article is an announcement with the headline “TO THE MEMBERS OF THE NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC SOCIETY”. It is an announcement of a dues increase (i.e. subscription price hike) effective July 1, 1920. This change was due to an increase in expenses since January 1st. There was a 50% rise in the cost of printing and an 88% price hike for the special paper upon which The Geographic was printed. The new membership dues were $3.00 per year (U. S.), $4.00 per year (abroad), and $3.50 per year (Canada). A lifetime membership was $50.00.
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