El Paso, Texas, CSA, 1870
El Paso, Texas, Confederate States of America, is a mix of urban and rural, modern and quaint, civilized and rustic. Located far away from any hostilities, the War Between the States has still had a profound impact upon this town. However, nothing has had a larger impact than the Bridge over the Rio Grande.
Rising up out of the gorge the river has carved, are two ominous spires. Descending from them are bundles of cables, which attach to a tremendous arch spanning the entire gorge. The entire bridge appears of a different age than the one we currently live in.
The Rio Grande runs angry below it. The river is swollen with the runoff from the melting snow-pack of the Sierra Madres, making a boat crossing impossible. The remnants of what appear to have been other bridge constructions are being scoured clean from the canyon. Even if one would be foolish enough to try to cross, there are Confederate soldiers patrolling. Mexican troops guard the far side as well, night and day.
The Confederate soldiers come from the Confederate garrison stationed in the rail-yards. Outside of patrolling the river and the rail-yards, there are individual soldiers posted at key points in town such as the telegraph office, the main intersection, and the road towards the salt mine. The ever-present line for water from the cistern winds into the center of town, where the main intersection hosts some of El Paso's modest businesses: the bank, the barber, the stables, and the smithy. Not everyone in El Paso spends their days waiting for water, though. The salt mine a few miles away employs many, though not enough to satisfy the growing number of refugees.
At one end of town are the rail-yards and bridge. The other end of town features a hodgepodge assortment of tents, tarpaper shacks, and other ramshackle housing. A shanty town has sprung up and swollen El Paso's population. When the people arrive, they hope to continue over the desert to California, or try to cross the Rio Grande, but once they arrive, those hopes disappear. The shanty town houses refugees of all sorts, from those simply looking for a safe haven, to those who prey on the innocent and helpless.
On the scenic riverfront, the view is marred by the site of a recently burnt building. The scent of burnt wood still hangs heavy here, and even the stone walls appear tired from the recent ordeal. The only recognizable remnant of the building's former occupant is a charred wooden sign, depicting some sort of brightly colored bird, engulfed in a chorus of flames.
Despite these appearances of ruin, there are signs of recent construction everywhere, mostly concentrated toward the rail-yards. None of the recent constructions, though, have a better position than the venerable Ricardo's Union Saloon. The old two-story building has views of the bridge, river, and center of town, and all traffic to and from the rail-yards must pass its doors.