Living in the Bronze Age: Scenic Drive’s Murchison Park Plaques

Murchison Park is one of the go-to places that El Pasoans take out-of-town visitors for a great view of the city both day and night.

Located at the top of Scenic Drive, the tiny park gives visitors a grand vista of downtown El Paso, Juarez, the Chamizal Memorial, the Plaza de la Mexicanidad (home of the big red X), UTEP, the Hueco Mountains to the east and the lower valley as far as the eye can see.

If one gets out of their car, a small walking path allows park you to get out and stretch your legs.

At the entrance to the walking path are series of plaques, or “Descriptive Markers” that most visitors probably do not take the time to read.

If they did, they probably would wonder what decade El Paso is stuck in, for the seven or so plaques that describe our great city to visitors from near and wide were placed there in the early to mid 1960’s and have never been updated.

The plaques constitute a weird trip down memory lane and a convoluted mix of history and geology.

The plaques, made of bronze and donated to the city by the State National Bank of El Paso were designed to give visitors an explanation of what they were looking at as well as a little history of the area. Look this way and see the Rio Grande.

Look over here and see Juarez. It was a great idea, especially for tourists who probably could not tell, looking outwards, where El Paso ends and Juarez begins. A great idea of 1960’s El Paso.

However, imagine yourself a visitor to El Paso today. You have no idea of the city boundaries, the history, or the culture of our great town. You could, if you read the plaques, learn all about “Peace Grove,” “Cordova Island,” Texas Western College, and the El Paso Smelting Works.

Here are some of the plaques and what you can learn if you read them closely:

Historical markers certainly have their place, but in order to be useful, they need to have accurate information, something these bronze markers are sorely lacking.

With their outdated mixture of history, geography, and economics lessons, these city owned and maintained exhibits are ripe for updating. Their English-only presentation is certainly not conducive in our multicultural community and their dated information makes a mockery of a city that wants to be considered “modern and up-to-date.”

Perhaps an innovative school could adopt these as a project, update the information, add some cool QR Codes that readers can scan that will take them to updated websites with up-to-date useful information that moves us out of the 1960’s bronze plaque age.


Author: Tim Holt is an educator and writer, with over 33 years experience in education and opines on education-related topics here and on his own award-winning blog: HoltThink. He values your feedback. Feel free to leave a comment.  Read his previous columns here.