UTPA Report: Civil War Trail

University of Texas-Pan American
Monday, June 9, 2014 - 9:14am

The Rio Grande Valley usually isn't brought up too much in classrooms during lessons on the Civil War, but in fact it played quite a large role. That's why The University of Texas-Pan American is teaming up with area historians to create a Civil War Trail to let people know about the importance this area played in that part of our nation's history, reporter Jennifer Berghom has more.

Dr. Russell Skowronek, professor, UTPA, "It's a very important thing for our region, an entity, once it is created for our region because it will actually knit together the entire valley from the gulf of Mexico to Laredo and we'll be able to talk about the significant activities that took place here, basically from the 1840s to the 1870s."

Recently, a group of a few dozen historians, educators, as well as representatives from state and federal agencies, met at UTPA's McAllen Teaching Site to begin work on this endeavor.

Dr. Tony Zavaleta, a professor of anthropology at UT Brownsville and owner of the Palmito Hill Ranch battle site, says he supports the creation of the trail, because it not only tells the story of the Civil War that not many have heard, but it will also create more tourism to the area.

Dr. Tony Zavaleta, UTB professor of anthropology,  "Well, you know, it's important to develop this project because it's... not only is it historical development, but it's economic development, so you know one of the things that the Valley, that we Valley natives have not done completely enough, is to promote our eco-tourism and our historical or cultural tourism. Once people realize and recognize that there's a Civil War trail in south Texas they'll come to south Texas."

Skowronek says the plan is to have a website, podcast and brochure promoting the trail by the beginning of next year. He hopes the community will also lend support to make this dream a reality.

Dr. Russell Skowronek, history professor, UTPA, "This is a legacy that will have payback in this Valley for a century to come, perhaps longer. Right now we are marking the sesquicentennial of the American Civil War. More people died in that war than all other wars combined for the United States. Here the war ended, the last battle was fought in 1865, and here we're hoping we can mark this so that, by the time that we are marking the bicentennial of the civil war in 50 years, those children that will be part of that will be able to say well there's always been a civil war trail."

I'm Jennifer Berghom reporting for UTPA and News Center 23.

More information can be found at the CHAPS website www.utpa.edu/chaps.

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