Photo by Brian Wancho
A gigantic star glimmers from the Franklin Mountains above El Paso; it's so big it can be seen from the east for 100 miles, and airline pilots use it as an orientation point.
The El Paso Electric Company first built the Star on the Mountain in 1940 as a larger-than-life Christmas ornament of sorts, intended to help spread feelings of peace and goodwill during the holiday season. After a storm blew out the bulbs in the first star, the city rebuilt it — bigger and better — in 1946. It now measures 459 feet long by 278 feet wide and uses 459 lightbulbs.
Over time, the star began to shine for special occasions beyond its Christmas through New Years interval; for instance, in 1979, it sparkled for 444 straight nights in honor of the American hostages being held in Iran. The star now shines nightly above the city skyline.