Parral, Mexico was Poncho Villa's favorite city. Unfortunately, his enemies knew that and Parral was the city where Poncho Villa was assassinated.
Poncho Villa's legend lives on today, for Parral is a major tourist destination for Mexican tourists. Mexicans, like most people who have heard legends, and not facts, flock to Parral, Mexico to learn about Poncho Villa and see the local sites.
Poncho Villa was the leader of the Mexican forces that attacked the U.S.A.. So, Mexico is still the only country that ever attacked the U.S.A. (The airplane attacks on 9/11 were not from a specific country) in the lower 48 states.
The location of the attack was Columbus, New Mexico.
In this assault, Poncho Villa captured horses, guns and ammunition . Unfortunately for Poncho Villa, the raid was costly. Though he did kill about 14 U.S. soldiers and civilians, he lost over 100 men.
Woodrow Wilson reacted by sending General Pershing into Mexico in search of Poncho Villa.
This action was the first time tanks were used.
In this foray, it was the first time planes were used in battle.
George Patton got his first battle experience in this skirmish.
Poncho Villa was a smart man, and the Mexican people helped in covering his tracks. For six months, the American forces tried to capture Poncho Villa, without success.
At the same time as the American incursion into Mexico, the war to end all wars - WWI - was raging in Europe.
Woodrow Wilson decided that the battle in Europe was much more important than catching Poncho Villa, and pulled the forces out of Mexico, to head over to the war in Europe.
Eventually, Poncho Villa was assassinated, shortly thereafter, on the streets of Parral, Mexico.
In the town, there's a museum dedicated to Poncho Villa.
There is an old silver mine, started by the Spanish, located in the town.
The mine, in it's prime, had 5 shafts and 45 tunnels that were worked. They dug down so deep, they hit the aquifer, and the mine flooded.
Though ore is still brought up, it is basically shut down.
There is one functioning mine shaft that tourists can ride that takes them down about 500 feet. The guide explains the conditions and the history of the mining experience from the beginning of the mine to when it was shut down in 1974.
A picture of the shaft and the old railroad engine that was used is in the slideshow.
Being an old Spanish town, it has a variety of Catholic churches. (These, too, are located in the slideshow)
Cathedral Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe.
Templo De San Juan de Dios
Templo De San Jose Saint Joseph Church
There's also an old Catholic Church by the mine, I'm assuming used by the miners, but the name of the church was not listed.
One owner of the silver mine, Don Pedro Alverado, built a huge mansion to show his love for his new wife. Unfortunately, she died before the mansion was finished. (In slideshow)
When Mexico sent in the army to find Poncho Villa, he had to flee the mansion. Unfortunately, he had supported Poncho Villa
El Palacio de Alverado was the name of the mansion that he had built for his wife.
Poncho Villa was loved by many of the people in Mexico, and in particular, Chihauhua State.
He had a huge mansion given to him by the Stallworth Brothers, known as the Casa Stallforth. (As a side note, I stayed in the hotel that was attached to Casa Stallworth) The city is now renovating the area for a theater.
There is also the Hidalgo Theater, that burned in the early 1900's. Though the inside is ruined, the outside remains standing.
Around the area, there are still mining towns that are inhabited to this day.
San Francisco Del Oro had an open pit gold mine that is now closed.
Santa Barbara/Durango had a silver mine that is still in business. This mine was originally started by the Spaniards.
There's first class hotels and restaurants in Parral, Mexico.
Best Western has a new hotel in town, along with a few locally owned hotels/restaurants.
And if you're a real history buff, and want to be part of old Mexico, there is a private club that will take you as a member for only $50 per month. The Parral Foreign Club, one of the nicest places in town, has it's own private bar and restaurant. Included is a bowling alley (dating back to the 30's when boys would take care of the pins vs. a machine), after renovation, of course.
A private meeting area with a wine room. Again, after the renovations are done!
The membership has dwindled from over 500 to less than 150. So, if you have the inclination, The Parral Foreign Club could use some new members.
If you're interested in genealogy, there is a non-profit that is putting all the historical documents from the church and municipalities on the internet. These date back from the 1600's and are in pretty good shape. They used a cotton based paper vs. wood pulp, so they have remained intact and decipherable even though they are centuries old.
Don't pass up a trip to Parral, Mexico if you visit Chihuahua State. Only about 90 minutes from Chihuahua City, it is definitely worth the drive!
Good people, interesting history and a place that has plenty to see and do.