Whenever I commit to a conference call with a coach, or a prospect from another region of our great country, I usually have to confirm the time in Mountain Time. The reaction is surprising on the other end. ‘I though all of Texas was on Central Time’ is the typical reaction. ‘No, there are two counties in West Texas that are on Mountain time.
Until recently, I didn’t know why. Then, Trish Long of the El Paso Times wrote an article in response to a reader’s question about El Paso and the Mountain Time Zone. Here’s a link to the article, and the text of the article below.
Trish Long: El Paso fought to stay on Mountain time
Dear Ms. Long,
One news event I’d like to see more about is when El Paso switched from Central time to Mountain time.
Federal law from 1970 allows El Paso and Hudspeth counties to make the switch. When I tried looking through El Paso Times microfilm from around that time, I didn’t find anything, though I may have missed it, or been looking in the wrong place. I’d love to see the Times’ coverage of this switch. Thanks!
Thank you for the email, Mr. Duval. The answer to the question is that El Paso has always been on Mountain time despite which time zone the federal government put it in.
On March 4, 1921, by authority of the secretary of transportation, El Paso, as well as the rest of the state of Texas, was placed in the Central time zone, but El Paso ignored the legislation for more than 40 years and continued to operate on Mountain time.
Then the Uniform Time Act of 1966 was adopted. The act, to go into effect April 30, 1967, compelled every part of the country to start conforming with both standard and daylight saving time zones.
El Pasoans again decided they didn’t want to observe daylight saving time or be made to switch to Central time, and in January 1967 the city, county and chamber of commerce adopted a joint resolution of intent to keep El Paso on Mountain time.
A petition sent to Secretary of Transportation Alan S. Boyd gave the following justifications:
El Paso is located 100 miles west of the 90th (Central Standard Time zone) meridian and 120 miles west of the 105th (Mountain Standard Time zone) meridian.
It has been in the Mountain time zone throughout the history of standard time. The use of Central Standard Time would adversely affect commerce in the area.
The more than 8,000 El Paso residents working at White Sands Missile Range would be required to work in one time zone and live in another.
The change would result in serious inconvenience and substantial financial loss to common carriers. The financial loss to El Paso resulting from a time zone differential between El Paso and Southern New Mexico is estimated, to be $50,000,000 of the net spendable income.
The loss would result from loss of El Paso trade, area business loss of tourist trade generated in the immediately adjacent New Mexico area, and removal or loss of common carrier activity that operates through El Paso.
The use of Central Daylight Time would require the El Paso area to conform from April through October, to the time standard of the Eastern Standard Time zone.
On March 30, 1967:
“El Paso has been granted permission to remain, temporarily at least, in the Mountain time zone. According to Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Don Holmberg, steps will be taken to secure El Paso’s permanent place in Mountain time.
“El Paso will be placed on Mountain Daylight Time on April 30. Clocks will move one hour ahead instead of two hours, as would have taken place if El Paso had also been placed on Central time.”
This was, however, just a postponement. No change to The Uniform Time Act was made.
In 1969, the U. S. Office of Transportation began to press harder on El Paso and adjoining counties to officially use Central Standard Time.
The Texas State Highway Department and County Judge Colbert Coldwell received letters from James B. Minor, assistant general counsel for regulation of time zones.
Minor wanted to know why official Texas highway maps show El Paso in Mountain time when the law requires it to be in Central time.
“The attention of this Department has been recently called to the official State highway map of Texas which displays the western panhandle of Texas as being within the Mountain Time Zone. As you may be aware, under section 265 of Title 15 of the United States Code, the entire State of Texas is, by law, in the Central Time Zone. Under the Uniform Time Act of 1966, no state or political subdivision may provide a different time than that of the time zone in which it is placed.
“In March of 1967, Secretary Boyd of this Department indicated by letter that he would delay consideration of enforcement efforts in western Texas under the circumstances pending consideration of a petition to change the zone boundary line. The petition was filed by Governor Connally in May 1967. However, approximately two years have passed since that time and this Department has been unable to act on the petition since Congress has not passed the necessary enabling legislation.
“This situation thus presents a problem. The Department cannot, of course, indefinitely postpone enforcement of a law that it is required to administer, and that is in fact administering in other areas of the country. In short, the Department is in such a position that it can be accused of giving preferential treatment to one area. You can see that such a charge, when we are trying to get other areas of the country to obey the law, could mitigate against us.”
On April 10, 1970, the following change was made to the Uniform Time Act:
“Not withstanding the first section of the Act of March 4, 1921 (15 U.S.C. 265), the Secretary of Transportation may, upon written request of the County Commissioners Court of El Paso County, Texas, change the boundary line between the central standard time zone and the mountain standard time zone so as to place El Paso County in the mountain standard time zone, in the manner prescribed in section 1 of the Act of March 19, 1918, as amended (15 U.S.C. 261), and section 5 of the Act of April 13, 1966 (15 U.S.C. 266).
In the same manner, the Secretary of Transportation may also place Hudspeth County, Texas, in the mountain standard time zone, if the Hudspeth County Commissioners Court so requests in writing and if El Paso County is to be placed in that time zone.”