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SPECIAL REPORT: Life along the border

YUMA, Ariz. (KYMA, KECY) - Gadsden, Arizona, a small border town with a population of less than one-thousand people, sits nestled just north of San Luis, Mexico. 

Louie and his wife Delia Gradias are two of the residents and say Gadsden wasn't always this small.

The Gradias's Gasden home also doubles as a museum, located less than a mile from the border wall since 1965.

While their location hasn't changed, the town has.

“It had a drug store, it had a post office, it had a gas station, it had a lumber yard, it had a meat market, it was bigger than Somerton at one time," said Louie and Delia.

Louie says he remembers when there was no wall.

He says he didn’t see immigration agents until 1954, now he says it’s a far different situation.

The border wall outside their door was built in 2019 under the Trump Administration, replacing a short metal barrier.

For almost 60 years, the couple says they have helped migrants who had just crossed the border.
“We open the door, we never refuse them, they either want water, because there’s nothing here for them, no stores, they want to know where the next town is,” said Louie and Delia.

When Louie was a teenager, he said the only migrants he witnessed crossing the border were people from Mexico.

“They do come knocking on our door and that worries me because we don’t know who they are, lately there was a lady from Honduras and there’s people from Cuba in the middle of the night, midnight,” said the couple.

This year the couple says they’ve seen more migrant traffic than ever.

“We’ve probably had about 22, or more, people come by. They’ll sit and drink their water and they want to charge their phone and I have a plug on the front porch, I let them charge their phone,” said the Gradias'.

Customs and Border Protection says in fiscal year 2022 there were over 300,000 apprehensions, not including got aways.

As a teenager, Louie knew that he was living in a crucial spot in the country. 

He started visiting long-time residents in the area, seeking photos, artifacts and stories.

Collecting pieces of history. 

“Luckily for me, I married somebody who likes it," said Louie.

Together, Louie and Delia accumulated enough photos and artifacts to open a museum.

“We have all the photos of the town, we have the court records and we even have the only ticket of the theatre,” said Delia.

All the objects are part of their history, part of the history of a small border town.

Through the years, the couple has witnessed many changes in the country and in their little town.

But one thing has never changed: Their love for each other.

Louie and Delia love living in their own museum and they welcome anyone to come visit, but it is by appointment only.

Text or call (928)580-8358 to reserve a tour of the Gadsden Museum.

Article Topic Follows: Special Reports
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Samantha Byrd

Samantha Byrd joined the KYMA team as a reporter in February 2022.

You can reach to her with story ideas at sammy.byrd@kecytv.com

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