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EP16 - Common Bonds

El Paso - Annual 2016

Whether you're interested in military or El Paso history or seeking an afternoon of family fun, Fort Bliss can answer the call.

EP16 - Common Bonds
Fort Bliss Educational Center
Photo by Steve Larese

For almost 170 years, El Paso has served the nation as the home to Fort Bliss, the military's second-largest installation and home to the 1st Armored Division. Established in 1849 to protect El Paso del Norte (now Ciudad Juárez), Fort Bliss' importance on a national level has increased over the decades, as the base has become a modern military training and testing site. As the base's significance has developed, so have El Paso's fortunes and prestige. Today, though both communities are vast — El Paso has a population of more than 650,000, and Fort Bliss comprises about 1,700 square miles, almost the size of Rhode Island — they're as close as small-town, back-fence neighbors. Fort Bliss and El Paso are bound together by a shared history, an interdependent economy, and a commitment to the people of El Paso and the citizens of the United States.

To learn more about Fort Bliss' history, visit the Fort Bliss and Old Ironsides Museums, which explain the 1st Armored Division's mission from World War II to the present and display artifacts from the base's earliest days, from mule saddles and Gatling guns to modern weaponry, such as helicopters and tanks. There are also exhibitions honoring the women of Fort Bliss and Medal of Honor recipients.

To learn more about the history of Fort Bliss, sign up for a walking tour with a local tour company. Tours take about three hours and include stops at the replica of historic Fort Bliss as it existed at Magoffinsville; the Buffalo Soldiers' Monument, erected in 1999 to honor the African American regiments garrisoned at the base during their service on the western frontier; and Fort Bliss National Cemetery.


Fort Bliss has five Visitor Control Centers and all visitors must stop at one to receive a pass, which is good for a maximum of 30 days. To receive a pass, all adults must present a valid state-issued driver's license, passport, or ID card. Drivers must show vehicle registration document and proof of insurance.

• Biggs Airfield Main (open Monday through Friday, 5 a.m.–9 p.m.)
• Buffalo Soldier (open 24 hours; 7 days a week)
• Chaffee (open 24 hours; 7 days a week)
• Old Ironsides/Global Reach (open 24 hours; 7 days a week)
• Sheridan (open Monday through Friday, 5 a.m.–9 p.m.)

• Fort Bliss and Old Ironsides Museums
Building 1735 Marshall Rd.
Open Monday through Friday, 9 a.m.–4 p.m.; closed federal holidays.

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