January 10, 2008

Eagle Pass

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Silly me. I went to Eagle Pass last week expecting to see locations used in the film No Country for Old Man. A perfunctory check of filming locations at IMDb did indeed list Eagle Pass (UPDATE: Eagle Pass has since been removed from the list of locations). And I assumed, since a hotel in the film was called "Hotel Eagle" (or was it Eagle Hotel? I've only seen this film three times now) and the events of the film and book are set in Texas, on the Texas/Mexico border, that I would indeed find the things I expected to see.
Moss pulled into Eagle Pass at a quarter till two in the morning.
He'd slept a good part of the way in the back of the cab and he
only woke up when they slowed coming off the highway down Main Street.
He watched the pale white globes of the street lamps pass along the
upper rim of the window.
Then he sat up.
You goin across the river? the driver said.
No. Just take me downtown.
You are downtown.
Moss leaned forward with his elbows on the back of the seat.
What's that right there?
That's the Maverick County Courthouse.
No. Right there where the sign is.
That's the Hotel Eagle.
Drop me there.
(No Country for Old Men, pp. 106, 107)

But no. It turns out that most of the filming was done in Las Vegas, New Mexico. Imagine that - things in a movie not reflecting reality....So, no Plaza Hotel. No Serf Theatre. But here is what I did find in Eagle Pass. First of all, there was the decidedly tropical Maverick County Courthouse and jail. It was constructed in 1885, and is Romanesque Revival style with Second Empire influences, with the 1926 paint scheme:

maverick county jail daylight
maverick county jail letters
looking up at maverick county courthouse
maverick county courthouse daylight

I saw the name "Hesles" several times while in Eagle Pass, including on this motel near the downtown area and border crossing, complete with eclectic birdhouse collection:
hesles motel
hesles motel birdhouses

The Aztec Theatre, which was built around 1915 and closed in 1982. It is mentioned in the novel:
the aztec theatre
He loped wincing down the sidewalk past the Aztec Theatre. As he
passed the little round ticket kiosk all the glass fell out of it.
He never even heard that shot.
(No Country for Old Men, p. 114)

Eagle Pass had a Kress at one time, in front of which there was wooden pavement as recently as 1963:
eagle pass kress
kress sign in eagle pass

More recently, it appears one could shop at the "De Todo Todo Todo Todo" (promises, promises) y "Mi Casa," and what might have been a Kress warehouse(?):

de todo todo todo todo
mi casa amarilla
s.h. kress & co.

When these pictures were taken in January 2008, the border town, drug cartel violence, which continues today, had begun to make national news, so it was slightly disturbing to see this:
gun shop sign

Finally, the sun went down on Eagle Pass:
maverick county courthouse at sundown
maverick county jail at sundown with flash

Corner of Main and Bibb (note Aztec Theatre):
corner of main and bibb
looking west down eagle pass main streetla casa hesles evening
la casa hesles motel sign

These last two shots are my favorites of what I captured while there. It was extremely cold at this point, and I was feeling "brave" being out on Main Street at that particular hour:
eagle pass main street at night
pretty maids all in a row


Whoa Pink! said...

You should have gone to Piedras Negras... it's an interesting place.
Rio Grande is far from Eagle Pass... sadly, Mexican border cities tend to be very violent. Reynosa (McAllen), Rio Grande (Pharr), Juárez (El Paso)...

Chris said...

I almost did. The movie No Country for Old Men has a short scene in which there is a really great old church. I could actually see it from Main Street in Eagle Pass. The line of cars coming in to the U.S. was so long, and I didn't feel like sitting in it, but I do kind of regret not doing it now!

Anonymous said...

I don't know how they are now, but Eagle Pass and Maverick County used to be extremely corrupt. I'd be scared to be there after dark. But maybe things have improved.

Chris said...

Let's just say I didn't spend a minute more than I needed to in order to get those night pictures.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the pictures. My grandmother grew up in Eagle Pass and my mom and I are planning on going there. We have some 100 yr old + pictures of the place but I've never seen one of the courthouse, which is very cool.

Anonymous said...

Crazy! My grandma is from Eagle Pass, too! She moved away, though. I'm going to ask her if it was very violent sometime. I was kinda disappointed that the locations weren't actually there. Oh well.

Chris said...

Lots of grandmothers in Eagle Pass! I just checked the IMDb locations section for No Country, and they've removed Eagle Pass from the list! How odd.

Anonymous said...

I work as a teacher at the Eagle Pass High School in Eagle Pass and I can tell you that our town is not violent at all. In fact, it is a relatively safe community. I hope that anybody interested in coming to visit us is not disuaded by the above comments. Thanks all.

Anonymous said...

you should have gone to Pierdas Negras it isn't dangerous at all. We used to have a eagle hotel back in the era that the film was made in but it has been destroyed since then. My dad used to work and go into Eagle Hotel as a kid. What the producers did was made a replica of the hotel in Las Vegas. (It did look like that though)

Anonymous said...

I have not been to Eagle Pass in about 15 years, but I grew up there. My grandfather owned the restraunt in the old Eagle Hotel, and my grandparents kept a room in the hotel year-round. They were from Edinburg, TX, but spent most of their time in Eagle Pass. Some of my best memories of my early childhood are in the lobby of the Eagle Hotel -- the old, worn leather chairs, shadow boxes on the wall displaying pistols and a great old elevator with an accordian-style steel gate door. The courthouse/jail was just across the street and i used to play there. Long time ago - I moved away about 30 years ago. I found this site while thinking about making a trip back with my kids sometime soon. I wish the hotel was still there....

Marcia Gruver said...

I stumbled onto this post while researching Eagle Pass history for a novel I'm writing. For the teacher who responded, or anyone else who knows or can find out, I need to know if the Maverick Hotel was in operation in 1906. If not, can you tell me the name of a hotel that was.

I also need the name and location of a saloon or gambling hall. Same year.

This is a work of fiction, but I like to insert factual details. You can contact me at mgruver1@yahoo.com or www.marciagruver.com. I'll acknowledge you in the book.