The way it wasn't...

In 1904, a reporter for the El Paso Herald wrote an exaggerated description of a swarm of earthquakes near Socorro. In reality, no significant damage occurred and the article sparked this reply in the Socorro Chieftain:

"The El Paso Herald of March 16 contains a column article on the recent earthquakes in the vicinity of Socorro. The article is remarkable. In fact, it is a masterpiece; for without the sensible and true avouch of one's own eyes it would be beyond belief that there could be crowded into so small a space so much airy and fantastic nonsense resulting apparently from a too liberal indulgence in the fluid extract of either Texas corn or Arizona cactus. "

"For example, the Herald writer says that one of the recent earthquakes in this vicinity 'lasted three minutes,' that 'pedestrians were caused to reel on their feet,' that the walls of adobe houses have 'become cracked and rendered almost unsafe as places of abode,' that the spring which supplies the city with water 'has commenced to boil since the trouble has been going on' and is 'now a seething cauldron,' and that there are those who say that Socorro because of past wickedness 'is getting a touch of the experience that was administered to Sodom and Gomorra."

"Let us see. Within the last six weeks Socorro has suffered perhaps 15 earthquake shocks not one of which lasted 20 seconds. As a result not a single wall is one-half as badly cracked as the brain pan of the Herald writer must be. During this earthquake period a few pedestrians have been seen to 'reel on their feet,' but a little investigation by the proper authorities has revealed the fact that such pedestrians were Texas Democrats and that the reeling was habitual. The waters of Socorro spring still come from the mountain at the same temperature as for years past. If the Herald man will drink of them for a short time and abstain from his usual beverages, it is quite possible that he will be able to suppress the fantastic working of his own imagination. Socorro was once a wicked city. There is no doubt of that. However, judging from the fact that newspaper men are among the most moral citizens of any community, the performance of the Herald writer is ample proof [that] Socorro in its wickedest days was an Elysium as compared with that present in El Paso, the moral cesspool of two great republics."

Source: Socorro Chieftain, March 19, 1904.

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Created by Bill Haneberg


last modified: 25 April, 2022