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Neighbors Expedition

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Neighbors Expedition

The Neighbors Expedition, led by [1]

Of all these expeditions, the one which mapped the route ultimately taken by the stage and most travelers from mid-Texas to El Paso was the route selected and mapped by Robert Neighbors. Indeed, the highway from [2]

Background

Neighbors had been an officer in the Army of the [3]

Neighbors, who invented the “field system” of Indian Supervision, was one of the few white men who was familiar with the [4]

Expedition to El Paso

Because of his reputation as a scout, and his reputation for being respected by the Comanche, Major General William J. Worth, the Commander of the United States Army's Eighth Military District, which included Texas, selected him to lead an expedition to find a road to El Paso which both settlers and wagon trains carrying commercial loads could use. Neighbors led a combined military-Ranger force that included his personal friend [5]

Neighbors was able to convince [6]

At this point, Buffalo Hump left the party, and Neighbors then engaged Guadalupe, the Chief of a Comanche band, to guide the expedition on to El Paso. Leaving the Colorado River, the expedition moved west on April 5, 1849, and managed the Horsehead Crossing over the [7]

They crossed the Rio Grande on April 25, 1849, where they discovered the tracks of shod horses, and determined these were the tracks of Whiting’s expedition, which had crossed the Rio Grande at that point on its return to Austin.

The Neighbors expedition then continued up the east bank of the Rio Grande toward El Paso and arrived there on May 2, 1849. Neighbors determined the last hundred or so miles they had traveled were completely unsuitable for a wagon road, so he then returned by a more northern route that had been used by the Mexican army between El Paso and the Pecos River. The Expedition began its return on May 6, 1849, by way of Hueco Tanks, Ojo del Alamo, and the Guadalupe Mountains en route to the Pecos River, and home.[8]

Return home, and the route to El Paso

On the return home, the expedition was guided by a Mexican National, Señor Zambrano. Neighbors found, and later reported to the military, that this return route from El Paso to the Pecos could serve as a wagon or stage road, which it became. The expedition entered Fredericksburg, Texas, on May 31 and San Antonio on June 2, only eight days after Whiting, who had left far earlier, and who was unable to provide a good road to El Paso. [9]

Neighbors original trip to El Paso had taken twenty-three days of actual travel time, but he was able to return to San Antonio in only twenty-one days by a far easier route. Neighbors reported to Gen. William Selby Harney, who had replaced General Worth as Commander of the Eighth Army Department or District, and recommended the return route as the trail the Army sought. General Harney then sent out parties to further survey Neighbors's recommended route. They concurred with Neighbors findings, and this came to be known as the Upper or Northern route.[10]

Highways follow the same route today

Not only settlers, but the Butterfield Overland Mail later ran on this route from the [11]

References

Kenneth F. Neighbours, "The Expedition of Major Robert S. Neighbors to El Paso in 1849," Southwestern Historical Quarterly 58 (July 1954).

Kenneth Neighbours, ed., "The Report of the Expedition of Major Robert S. Neighbors to El Paso in 1849," Southwestern Historical Quarterly 60 (April 1957).

Kenneth F. Neighbours, Robert Simpson Neighbors and the Texas Frontier, 1836-1859 (Waco: Texian Press, 1975). Robert Simpson Neighbors Papers, Barker Texas History Center, University of Texas at Austin.

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