New Mexico, one of the Mountain states, located in the southwestern United States. A land of plains, plateaus, and mountains, New Mexico is famed for the great variety and magnificent colors of its scenery. Much of the land is used for livestock grazing. Manufacturing and other urban-based economic activities are carried on in only a few cities. Tourists, attracted not only by the scenic beauty of New Mexico’s deserts and mountains but also by the rich Native American and Spanish cultures that distinguish the state, have become an important part of the state’s economy.
The state’s small population is composed of Native Americans, people of Spanish descent, whose ancestors entered what is now New Mexico in the 16th century, and the so-called Anglo-Americans. Together these groups constitute a multicultural society unlike that of any other state.
Much of New Mexico is reminiscent of an earlier time. Examples are its Native American festivities, its adobe villages, and its many remnants of pre-Columbian and Spanish architecture. However, New Mexico also played a role in the development of the atomic age. With the explosion of the first atomic bomb at the Trinity site at White Sands Proving Grounds in 1945, New Mexico became an important center for nuclear research and development.
The region north of Mexico was named Nuevo Mexico by a Spanish explorer in the 1560s. The name was translated and applied to the United States territory organized in 1850 and later to the state when it became the 47th member of the Union on January 6, 1912. New Mexico is called the Land of Enchantment. Santa Fe is the capital of New Mexico. Albuquerque is the largest city.
New Mexico covers 314,917 sq km (121,590 sq mi), including 606 sq km (234 sq mi) of inland water. It is the fifth largest state in the United States. The state is roughly square in shape, and its extreme dimensions are 565 km (351 mi) from east to west and 629 km (391 mi) from north to south. The state’s highest point is Wheeler Peak at 4,011 m (13,161 ft), and the lowest is Red Bluff Reservoir at 866 m (2,842 ft). The mean elevation in New Mexico is about 1,740 m (5,700 ft). It is bounded on the north by Colorado, on the east by Oklahoma and Texas, on the south by Texas and Mexico, and on the west by Arizona.
Four natural regions make up the New Mexican landscape: the southernmost portion of the Southern Rocky Mountains, part of the Colorado Plateau, part of the Basin and Range province, and part of the Great Plains.
The Rocky Mountains reach southward into New Mexico in two branches, one on each side of the Río Grande Valley. To the east are the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, the state’s highest and most extensive mountain range, which reaches as far south as Glorieta. Within these mountains, near Taos, is Wheeler Peak. About 80 km (about 50 mi) farther south is North Truchas Peak, which reaches 3,993 m (13,102 ft).
To the south and west of Santa Fe are numerous mountain ranges. Most of these are ragged ridges varying from a few kilometers to 130 km (80 mi) long and running generally parallel from north to south. They are mostly fault-block ranges: chunks of the earth’s surface that have been broken and slowly pushed up above the surrounding land. The larger and higher of the ranges are the Sandia, Sacramento, Mogollon, Guadalupe, and Manzono mountains and The Black Range.
Between the fault-block ranges are wide extensions of the Basin and Range province: the Tularosa Valley, Río Grande Trough, and the area along the western side of the Colorado Plateau. Many of these basins have no drainage to the sea and are slowly filling up with sand, gravel, and soil washed down from the mountains.
One of the largest such basins in the world is the Tularosa Valley, between the Sacramento and San Andres mountains. The sands in and around White Sands National Monument, composed of tiny grains of gypsum, cover 582 sq km (225 sq mi) of the valley’s floor. Other similar basins are the plains near Deming, the Playas Valley near Lordsburg, the Estancia Valley, the Jornada del Muerto, and the Plains of San Agustin. The western two-thirds of the Basin and Range province is the northernmost extension of the Mexican Highland. The eastern portion is generally called the Sacramento section. The mountainous areas west of the Río Grande include the Nacimiento Uplift, the San Juan Mountains, and the Jemez Mountains. These ranges have deep canyons and several peaks rising above 3,300 m (11,000 ft). All are largely volcanic in origin, and in the center of the Jemez Mountains is a great collapsed crater, the Jemez Caldera. At nearly 470 sq km (180 sq mi) in area, the caldera is one of the largest in the world. Long extinct, the crater is now a grassy valley known as Valle Grande. Hot springs are numerous in this region.
The Colorado Plateau in western New Mexico is a land of great horizontal layers of rock consisting of brightly colored sandstones, limestones, and shales. These are largely the hardened sediments of ancient sea bottoms and sandy shores. New Mexico’s portion of the Colorado Plateau is divided into two sections. South of Gallup the region is known as the Datil section and north of there as the Navajo section. The general elevation of the plateau is from 1,500 to 2,100 m (5,000 to 7,000 ft). The rock layers are sharply broken off and worn away to leave high cliffs, mesas, buttes, and deep canyons. Each mesa, or plateau, is deeply eroded, showing the edges of rock layers. Over many centuries vast amounts of rock have crumbled and washed down the Colorado River. The Colorado Plateau area is the most thinly inhabited part of New Mexico but one of the most beautiful. The red sandstone cliffs near Gallup are well known, as is the golden-brown sandstone butte of the Enchanted Mesa near Grants.
In the same area volcanic rocks have pushed up through the sedimentary rocks. Mount Taylor, in the San Mateo Mountains, is an old volcano near Grants that rises 3,445 m (11,301 ft). Elsewhere the volcanic rock poured out as spreading sheets of lava. Some of these sheets have been eroded to leave mesas and buttes; others have been eroded away almost entirely, leaving only hardened cores where the lava was originally forced up. Ship Rock is a volcanic plug with radiating dikes that rise about 430 m (about 1,400 ft) above the present level of the land.
Part of the vast level expanse known as the Great Plains Province lies within eastern New Mexico, stretching from its northern to its southern tip in a belt from 160 to 240 km (100 to 150 mi) wide. The High Plains, the flattest section of the Great Plains, extend southward into New Mexico from Colorado. The High Plains are also called the Llano Estacado, or Staked Plain. The Spanish name is believed to be derived from the plain’s escarpment on the north and west having a palisaded, or stockaded, appearance.
Elsewhere, the Great Plains are more eroded and rolling. To the north of the Llano Estacado the Canadian River has cut a canyon 300 m (1,000 ft) deep, and to the west the Pecos River occupies a wide rolling valley. This region, known as the Pecos section, is a maze of rocky cliffs and mesas and narrow ravines and canyons. Isolated hills and buttes are scattered throughout the plains, especially in the Raton section in northeastern New Mexico. These peaks, some rising above 2,700 m (9,000 ft), were important landmarks in early days. The best known of these are The Wagon Mound (2,122 m/6,930 ft) and Capulin Mountain (2,494 m/8,182 ft), which is an almost perfectly shaped cone of lava and cinders in Capulin Volcano National Monument.
|B||Rivers and Lakes|
New Mexico’s major river is the Río Grande, originating in southern Colorado, and flowing southward for 760 km (470 mi) through the state. Between the San Luis Valley and Española Valley the river flows in a deep canyon known as the Río Grande Gorge; then, below White Rock Canyon, it flows through several valleys containing agricultural land. Most of the water of the Río Grande is used to irrigate these valleys. The Río Grande’s waterflow in New Mexico is extremely low.
One of the major tributaries of the Río Grande is the Pecos River, which rises in northern New Mexico and joins the Río Grande in Texas. Other tributaries of the Río Grande in New Mexico are the Rio Puerco, Galisteo Creek, Rio Chama, and Red River.
The Continental Divide, made up of ridges and other high ground separating rivers draining to the Atlantic from those draining to the Pacific, crosses the state from north to south. The Canadian River runs eastward from New Mexico to join the Arkansas River. The San Juan and Gila rivers flow westward to join the Colorado River. Most of the state is drained by dry washes, called arroyos, which after summer thunderstorms can carry large amounts of water, causing flash floods.
The largest bodies of water in New Mexico are reservoirs built to irrigate the dry lands. These include Elephant Butte and Caballo reservoirs, and Cochiti Lake on the Río Grande; Conchas Lake and Ute Reservoir on the Canadian River; Navajo Reservoir on the San Juan River; Abiquiu and El Vado reservoirs on the Rio Chama; and Lake McMillan on the Pecos River. In the Sangre de Cristo Mountains are numerous small glacial lakes, mostly at elevations above 3,300 m (11,000 ft).
The climate of New Mexico is generally mild, sunny, and dry. Most of the state has between 250 and 500 mm (10 and 20 in) of rainfall annually. Winters are drier than summers. Temperatures and precipitation vary widely from night to day and from winter to summer. In addition, climate varies greatly within each natural region. Higher mountain areas have a much cooler and wetter climate than lower areas nearby.
Average annual precipitation ranges from about 200 mm (about 8 in) in the Río Grande and San Juan river valleys to more than 760 mm (30 in) in the northern mountains. The overall average for the state is 330 mm (13 in) per year. July and August are the wettest months. Nearly half the year’s precipitation occurs during the summer, mostly in the form of brief but often heavy thunderstorms. Winter precipitation falls as snow in the mountains and as either rain or snow at lower elevations. At times during the winter, cold air masses moving southward from Canada invade the state and produce blizzards and cold waves, especially in the northern parts. Annual mean temperatures vary from about 16° C (about 60° F) in the south to about 10° C (about 50° F) in the north. The southern areas, however, have many days of summer temperatures in the upper 30°s C (lower 100°s F). Temperatures in the lower -20°s C (below 0° F) can occur in all areas during the winter.
Soils typical of semiarid regions are extensive in the lower elevations of the southern half of the state. These have developed by gradual weathering and leaching of coarse textured sands and gravels washed down from surrounding mountains. They create landscapes having many colors, varying between red, yellow, brown, and gray. Many of them retain characteristics acquired during cycles of heavier rainfall related to continental and alpine glaciers. They can be quite fertile, if irrigated, but if not properly managed can form dense subsurface layers, called caliche, that are in places harder than concrete.
In cooler and moister areas in the northern one-third of the state and along the eastern counties, soils typical of the Great Plains are common. These are dark colored, fine textured silts and clays similar to the soils found in the wheat belt of Kansas and Oklahoma. They are quite fertile and extensively cultivated for both dry-land and irrigated crops. In some places, older soils pre-dating the last glacial episode can be found. These are used extensively for agriculture, but also must be carefully managed to sustain their economic importance.
The youngest soils are found along the Río Grande Valley and in the San Juan basin. They are irrigated for alfalfa production and a variety of other field crops. Thin soils and rock outcrops dominate the higher elevations in all of the mountain ranges throughout the state. For the most part these remain uncultivated.
Within the borders of New Mexico all the major biomes of the world can be found except for the tropical rain forest. Seven major life zones are present in the state. They range from Lower Sonoran to Alpine. From alpine tundra at the top of Wheeler Peak to sparse yucca at White Sands, present-day climates support a variety of forest, woodland, grassland, and desert scrub communities. Elevation, topography, slope orientations, and New Mexico’s location in the pathway of both tropical Pacific and polar continental air masses create a mosaic of vegetation giving the state unmatched scenic beauty. The Alpine zone ranges in elevations between 3,500 and 4,000 m (11,500 and 13,000 ft). This is above the timberline and supports grasses and shrubs. The Hudsonian and Canadian zones range in elevation from 2,600 to 3,700 m (8,500 to 12,000 ft) and are forested with mainly englemann spruce, alpine fir, and corkbark fir at the higher end and Douglas fir, white fir, and limber pine at the lower end. Intermingled within these zones are large expanses of aspen that turn brilliant yellow in September. The Transition zone contains the ponderosa pine forest from elevations ranging from 1,700 to 2,600 m (5,500 to 8,500 ft). The next zone is the Upper Sonoran, which contains piñon pine and juniper woodlands, at elevations between 1,400 and 2,300 m (4,500 to 7,500 ft). This is the most extensive of all zones boasting about 7.8 million hectares (19 million acres) within the state. The major tree species found here are piñon pine, Utah juniper, alligator juniper, one-seed juniper, and rocky mountain juniper. It also contains a mixture of large to medium size oaks which are found in the foothills in the southern quarter of the state. The Lower Sonoran zone occurs at elevations of about 900 to 1,600 m (2,900 to 5,000 ft). This zone contains many grasses interspersed with shrubs such as creosote bush, mesquite, four-winged saltbush and a variety of cacti. The plants in many of these zones can be found in other areas because of unique climatic conditions within a particular area.
Although the elements of New Mexico’s plant life have their origins many millions of years ago, today’s patterns and composition are the result of glacial climates that ended only 10,000 to 12,000 years ago, or reflect changes brought on by gradual drying and warming as the alpine glaciers receded. The perception of New Mexico as a desert, therefore, is largely incorrect. There are many pockets of plant life that retain vestiges of their former climates. Human impacts on these historical “gardens,” as well as on some of the younger cactus gardens, is a serious threat to New Mexico’s environment.
Perhaps the most serious threat to riparian vegetation along New Mexico’s water courses is the invasion of salt cedar, or tamarisk. This plant, native to the Middle East, was introduced into Texas in the late 1800s and has since spread along all of the major waterways and tributaries of the Río Grande and Pecos River. Its rapid growth and reproduction, combined with its ability to replace native vegetation and tap precious underground water, has classified it as a noxious weed.
New Mexico is home to a great diversity of animal life. Many of the species are wide-ranging over the forests of western North America, especially those in the forested higher elevations. There are many more species that are limited in their ranges by a combination of latitude, elevation, and the availability of water. The patterns in today’s wildlife show the effects of widespread grazing, fire-suppression, logging, road-building, and other human impacts that tend to disrupt the free range of animals. Some of the more remarkable species include the coatimundi, black bear, mountain lion, mule deer, white-tailed deer, pronghorn, elk, several species of fox, chipmunk, bushy-tailed woodrat, muskrat, Abert’s and fox squirrel, yellow-bellied marmot, bobcat, cougar, beaver, and porcupine. There are a few Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep in the more remote, higher elevations of the central mountains and Mexican Desert bighorn sheep in the southwestern ranges. The Mexican wolf, now extinct in the state, is being considered for reintroduction in the Gila Wilderness Area in southwestern New Mexico.
Common forest birds include the northern goshawk, blue grouse, band-tailed pigeon, flammulated owl, northern pygmy owl, northern saw-whet owl, Steller’s jay, scrub jay, piñon jay, several species of woodpecker and sapsucker, Clark’s nutcracker, the western and mountain bluebirds, mountain chickadee, wild turkey, various species of wood warbler, the bald eagle, and a variety of hawks and falcons. In the colder waters of high mountain streams and lakes are a variety of trout, including rainbow, lake, brook, cutthroat, and brown, and kokanee salmon.
At lower elevations, particularly in the drier, southern half of the state, wildlife is seldom seen. Many of the animals are small and nocturnal, or active only at night. Most noted among these are several varieties of bats, which reside during the day in caves and caverns and which venture forth at dusk by the millions. Other small animals include kangaroo rats, pack rats, jackrabbits, ground squirrels, and a variety of lizards and snakes. In the grasslands along the eastern border with Texas and in the Río Grande and Pecos River valleys, prairie dogs were once plentiful but are becoming rare. Peccaries (or javelinas) are fairly common in the southwestern “bootheel” part of the state. Coyotes are common statewide and pronghorn can be seen from the highway all along the eastern plains. Birds in the southern brush and scrublands include quail, cactus wren, and The roadrunner is the state bird. At wildlife refuges along the Río Grande, huge flocks of migratory birds travel the midcontinent flyway on their way north or south. Some of these birds, such as snow geese, whooping cranes, sandhill cranes, and ducks, winter over before returning northward for the summer. Warm water fish in the lower elevations throughout the state include a variety of bass, yellow perch, green sunfish, channel catfish, bluegill, white crappie, walleye, and northern pike.
Human impacts, including agriculture, pollution, encroachment, and the introduction of foreign species, have put many species at risk. By the mid-1990s some 26 species of fish (including the Gila trout), 21 species of amphibians and reptiles (including several species of rattlesnake and the Gila monster), 32 birds (including the bald eagle and Mexican spotted owl), and 15 mammals were listed as threatened or endangered.
Most of New Mexico’s environmental programs are managed by the state departments of health and environment. The state also runs the Department of Energy, Minerals, and Natural Resources, which is responsible for forestry, parks, soil and water conservation, and regulation of the mining industry.
Much of New Mexico’s conservation efforts focus on controlling groundwater pollution, maintaining air quality, and keeping the biodiversity of the forests and wilderness areas. Progress is being made in efforts to reduce pollution; in the period 1995–2000 the amount of toxic chemicals discharged into the environment was reduced by 98 percent.
Protection of groundwater resources is a high priority in New Mexico. In a 1987 study the state’s groundwater program was rated one of the ten best in the nation. Much of the population depends on groundwater for industrial, agricultural, and drinking purposes. Major contaminants of concern include organic chemicals, nitrates (from fertilizer), sulfates, brine, and metal salts.
Although air quality in most of New Mexico is quite good, several areas at one time experienced poor air quality. Albuquerque and surrounding Bernalillo County consistently exceeded the standard for carbon monoxide in the 1980s, but by the early 1990s were in compliance with federal regulations. Other counties have had difficulty in controlling dust and wood smoke. The Four Corners area, in the northwest, has received national attention for its suspected contribution to acid rain, because of its large coal-burning power plants. In the mid-1980s, New Mexico began a program to control toxic air pollution.
In 1986 New Mexico required that all hazardous waste be exported to other states for disposal. In 2006 the state had 12 hazardous waste sites on the federal priority list for cleanup due to their severity or proximity to people. New Mexico has its own program to deal with other waste sites.
Of special concern is a federal radioactive materials facility, the Waste Isolation Pilot Project, near Carlsbad. The U.S. government has constructed this facility to store certain radioactive waste deep underground. In 1990 a law was passed that establishes a comprehensive program for solid waste; the program includes recycling, source reduction, and reuse of waste.
Spanish settlers, who first arrived in the region that is now New Mexico in the 1600s, set up a self-sufficient farming and ranching economy. Because of the dry climate, most settlements were along the rivers. No major economic change occurred until after the completion, in 1879, of the region’s first railroad. In the next few decades cattle ranching grew on a large scale. The mining of gold, silver, and other minerals became important, and agriculture spread to newly irrigated land as more settlers moved to the region. A new aspect was added to the economy when the Los Alamos National Laboratory, established in 1943, developed the world’s first atomic bomb. This, along with other military and United States Department of Energy establishments, stimulated the growth of associated private industry.
New Mexico had a work force of 935,000 people in 2006. The largest share of the workers—42 percent—held jobs in the service industries, including occupations catering to tourists or doing such work as computer programming or serving in restaurants. Another 20 percent were employed in wholesale or retail trade; 23 percent by federal, state, or local government, including those in the military; 7 percent in construction; 17 percent in finance, insurance, or real estate; 4 percent in manufacturing; 3 percent in farming (including agricultural services) or forestry; and 2 percent in mining. In 2005, 8 percent of New Mexico’s workers were members of a union.
Despite its generally dry climate, agriculture in New Mexico is an important economic activity. Ranching and commercial farming added $2.6 billion to the state’s economy in 2004. Nearly half of this income was derived from Chaves, Curry, Roosevelt, and Doña Ana counties. There were 17,500 farms in 2005, of which 32 percent had annual sales of more than $10,000. Farmland occupied 18 million hectares (44.5 million acres), of which just 6 percent was devoted to raising crops. Some 33 percent of the cropland is irrigated either by river water or by groundwater from aquifers.
The greater part of New Mexico’s productive farmland is found along the Río Grande and in the Pecos, San Juan, Canadian, and Gila river valleys, where crops can be irrigated with river water. Some areas, such as that around Deming, are irrigated by pumped wells. The production on the irrigated land accounts for much of New Mexico’s agricultural output by value. Dry farming (farming without irrigation) is practiced in the extreme eastern part of the state and in a few small areas in the mountain valleys.
Ranching is far more important than farming, especially in eastern New Mexico. Livestock sales provide 78 percent of the state’s farm income. The cattle herds were largest in the early 1920s, but the grasslands were greatly overgrazed. Since then the number of cattle has been reduced and efforts have been made to improve grazing practices. At one time the cattle were marketed chiefly in Kansas City, but now many cattle are slaughtered in New Mexico and much of the beef is sent to California. Sheep are grazed in the northeastern plains, in the northern mountains, and in the Navajo areas of the northwest. National forests include grazing land for sheep and cattle. While growing cattle and calves for meat remained steady during the 1990s, the value of dairy products increased markedly, becoming the second most valuable agricultural product. The state also has farms that produce eggs and hogs.
In the late 1990s hay, vegetables, and nursery and greenhouse items were the leading cash crops in New Mexico. Hay is grown mainly in Chaves, Eddy, and San Juan counties, and most of it is fed to livestock on the farms where it is grown rather than sold. The most important vegetables raised are chili peppers and onions; others include potatoes, lettuce, and pinto beans. Corn, cotton, peanuts, grain sorghum, and wheat are the most important field crops—most grown on irrigated farms. Orchard crops are primarily pecans, grown in Doña Ana County, and apples, grown in Rio Arriba and San Juan counties.
Forests cover 21 percent of New Mexico’s land area. Ponderosa pine is the chief wood processed.
Mining is New Mexico’s primary economic activity based on natural resources, and New Mexico ranks among the leading states in mineral production. The most important minerals are natural gas, petroleum, coal, copper, potash, crushed stone, and sand and gravel used in construction.
There are major oil fields in Eddy, Lea, and Chaves counties in the southeast and in McKinley and San Juan counties in the northwest. McKinley and San Juan counties also have major natural-gas fields. In 1997 New Mexico ranked fourth among the states in the production of natural gas and seventh in petroleum production. Coal is produced in the northwest and the northeast. Nearly all of it is used in coal-burning power plants in the Four Corners region in New Mexico and Arizona. The York Canyon Mine near Raton, however, supplies large quantities of coal to states in the upper Midwest.
Almost one-fifth of the annual U.S. output of uranium was once mined in New Mexico. In the late 1990s, however, only a small amount was being produced by processing mine water because of a dramatic decline in demand. Uranium was discovered at Haystack Mountain in 1950. Major sources of uranium were McKinley and Valencia counties and Shiprock, on the Navajo Reservation in San Juan County.
Copper is New Mexico’s most important nonfuel mineral. In 1997 New Mexico ranked third, behind Arizona and Utah, in copper production. The Chino mine, near Santa Rita, is today one of the largest in the world. Other copper operations are situated near Animas, Tyrone, and Bayard. Silver and gold are obtained largely as by-products of copper smelting. Potash, a potassium concentrate used mainly in fertilizer, is the state’s second most important nonfuel mineral. Copper and potash together usually account for four-fifths of the value of New Mexico’s nonfuel mineral production. Much of the nation’s potash is mined near Carlsbad and Hobbs. New Mexico is also the country’s leading producer of perlite, and its second largest producer of pumice and mica.
Until the late 1940s manufacturing was of only minor importance. It was limited to the making of construction materials, some food processing, smelting, railroad maintenance, and Native American crafts. Industry was slow to develop because New Mexico lacked a large consuming market, either within its borders or nearby. However, since World War II (1939-1945) industry has been boosted by federal government activities. The United States Department of Defense brought ordnance and the making of components for transportation and electronic equipment to the fore in New Mexico. In addition, improved transportation and population shifts contributed to the growth of industry in the 1970s and 1980s. The state also has oil refineries.
In 1996 the leading industries in the state were the manufacturers of electronic equipment, chiefly semiconductors; printers and publishers, mainly newspaper publishers; food processors; manufacturers of instruments, such as missile guidance systems and surgical appliances; makers of transportation equipment, including aircraft engines and parts and motor vehicles; and manufacturers of machinery, led by computer makers. Albuquerque is the state’s chief industrial center.
Almost all of the electricity generated in New Mexico comes from steam-driven power plants burning fossil fuels, mostly coal, and less than one percent comes from hydroelectric power plants. Much of the electricity is produced in the Four Corners area in the northwest and is consumed outside the state. The coal-fired Four Corners Power Plant is one of the largest fossil-fuel steam-driven power plants in the world.
The many national and state recreation areas, beautiful scenery, Spanish colonial heritage, and renowned art galleries draw thousands of visitors to New Mexico every year. Popular events such as the International Hot Air Balloon Festival and the New Mexico State Fair, and sites such as Carlsbad Caverns continually attract visitors from around the world. During the summer, the state’s mountains, rivers, and lakes are havens for outdoor enthusiasts. Winter sports, such as downhill skiing and cross-country skiing are enjoyed by residents and visitors alike.
Much of New Mexico’s industrial activity is concerned with research and development in the fields of nuclear energy, space exploration, and ballistic rocketry. The many government installations in the state include the Air Force Missile Development Center at Holloman Air Force Base, near Alamogordo; Los Alamos National Laboratory, operated by the University of California for the United States Department of Energy; the Department of Energy’s Sandia National Laboratories, at Albuquerque; and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA) White Sands Test Facility and the United States Army’s White Sands Missile Range, both located in the Tularosa Valley. Other military bases include Kirtland Air Force Base near Albuquerque, and Cannon Air Force Base, near Clovis.
An ancient road system focusing on the Anasazi community in Chaco Canyon and other sites in the Four Corners region testify to the advanced cultures that occupied what is now New Mexico several thousand years ago. The first road constructed after the arrival of Europeans was El Camino Real, traveled by the Spanish in the 1600s along the Río Grande from northern Mexico to Santa Fe. The Santa Fe Trail became a common trading route from St. Louis, Missouri, to Santa Fe in the early 1800s, following the routes blazed by French and English trappers. Subsequently, the trail became a major route for wagon trains moving westward from the 1830s to the 1870s. By the first decades of the 20th century, a national highway (eventually named Route 66) linking Chicago with Los Angeles snaked its way across New Mexico. These historical corridors are still followed today, but most use the original roadbeds only in part. New Mexico had 102,610 km (63,759 mi) of highways in 2005, including 1,609 km (1,000 mi) of the federal interstate highway system. The principal east-west route is Interstate 40; the main north-south route is Interstate 25.
Railroads entered New Mexico in the 1880s upon completion of the Raton Tunnel. Tracks spread rapidly for the next 30 years, linking agricultural and mining centers throughout the state with markets in both the eastern and western United States coasts. While many of the spur lines built during this period have since been abandoned, active transcontinental freight and passenger lines still cross New Mexico. In 2004 the state had 2,741 km (1,703 mi) of railroad track. Coal accounts for 72 percent of the tonnage of goods shipped by rail in New Mexico.
New Mexico had 11 airports in 2007, many of them private airfields. The airport in Albuquerque, the state’s busiest, handled 3.3 million passengers in 1996. Feeder services link many other population centers.
|IV||THE PEOPLE OF NEW MEXICO|
With a population of 1,819,046, New Mexico ranked 36th among the states in 2000. The population density was only 6 persons per sq km (16 per sq mi) in 2006. Like other states in the Southwest, New Mexico underwent a rapid population increase after 1950. Migration from other parts of the United States contributed to this growth. In 1950 only 681,187 people lived in the state. The population increased by 40 percent in the 1950s, by 7 percent in the 1960s, by 28 percent in the 1970s, by 16 percent in the 1980s, and by 20 percent in the 1990s. The regions around Albuquerque and Santa Fe are the most rapidly growing areas.
The population is unevenly distributed. Most of the people live near the Río Grande, Pecos, and San Juan rivers. Albuquerque is located on the Río Grande. More than one-third of the state’s total population lives in the Albuquerque metropolitan area. In 2000 some 75 percent of the state’s inhabitants were classified as living in urban areas. Of the remainder, classified as rural residents, some lived on isolated farms and ranches, but the majority lived in small villages, especially in the north.
New Mexico’s rural population tends to live in or around settlements related to its tri-cultural history. Most of the villages and towns are small, but relatively stable, adhering to traditional cultural values. In the eastern counties, Anglo-American populations are still primarily tied to agriculture or energy production; in the central and northwestern regions, Native Americans are rapidly modernizing their economies, but remain faithful to their reservations and traditional lifestyles. Throughout the state, but particularly in the north-central mountains, Hispanic towns dating back to the early period of Spanish and Mexican land grants represent enclaves of traditional life and family culture.
Small towns and villages throughout the state often provide too little employment and have too little agricultural potential to provide steady and secure income to their residents. Long distance commuting for employment at federal or state government facilities, or local employment in extractive industries such as mining and lumbering or tourist services provide the economic means for these settlements to continue.
New Mexico is proud of its tri-cultural heritage, which is evident in its cuisine, architecture, languages, and cultural events. Native Americans, Hispanics, and Anglo-Americans each contribute to the unique culture that is New Mexico.
Many Native Americans, comprising 9.5 percent of the population, reside on six reservations and in 19 pueblos. They are the fourth largest Native American community in the United States. Some of the pueblos, such as Taos, Acoma Pueblo, and Santa Domingo, predate the Spanish conquest of New Mexico. The three major Native American cultures are the Navajo, Pueblo, and Apache. Most of the Navajo live on a large reservation in northwestern New Mexico and adjoining states. Many Navajo raise sheep, but they also earn income from oil and other mineral production, manufacturing of missile guidance systems for the United States Department of Defense, lumbering, and from vast expanses of irrigated cropland. The Navajo irrigation project is one of the largest in the state.
Most of the pueblos are located in the Río Grande Valley. A few of the pueblos (Zuni, Acoma, and Laguna) are found in west central New Mexico. Some of the best-known pueblos are Taos, Zuni, Santa Clara, San Idelfonso, Acoma, and Jemez. Most of the pueblo people are employed in cities near the pueblos, although some engage in farming. Los Alamos National Laboratory employs many pueblo people who live nearby. Traditional arts and crafts are a source of income for the pueblos and are sold to both tourists and local residents.
Two groups of Apache, the Jicarilla and the Mescalero, live on separate reservations. The Jicarilla reside in northwestern New Mexico, on land rich in oil and gas. They also derive income from lumbering and ranching. The Mescalero occupy land in south central New Mexico and are engaged in lumbering and ranching. They also own and operate the Ski Apache resort, the only ski area in the southern part of the state.
The newest source of income for many reservations in New Mexico is gambling. Large casinos have been built on these lands and are becoming a significant contributor to the Native American economy.
Hispanics, who may be of any race but in New Mexico are primarily of Mexican descent, represented 42.1 percent of the state’s population in 2000. The exploration and conquest of present-day New Mexico by the Spanish and, later, the Mexicans, introduced a culture that continues to influence the character of New Mexico. The Camino Real became a major trade route between parts of New Mexico and Mexico, introducing new foods and other cultural attributes to the area. In some of the northern counties, Hispanics constitute a large majority of the population, and in some parts of New Mexico, Spanish is the primary language. Early Hispanic settlers were granted lands first by Spain and later Mexico. Many of these land grants, most of which are in northern New Mexico, are owned today by the descendants of these early settlers.
Anglo-Americans are the third component of the tri-cultural character of the state. Whites comprised 66.8 percent of the state’s population in 2000. This percentage included many of the Hispanics, who are classified as being of any race. In the early and mid-1800s, trappers and explorers entered the state. When the Santa Fe Trail opened, it served not only as a conduit for trade with the Hispanics, but as a route of travel for Anglo-Americans in their westward expansion. Many chose to settle in New Mexico. Though Anglo-Americans occupy most areas of the state, many reside in the large urban areas or in the eastern part of the state where ranching and the extraction of oil and gas are primary sources of income.
In recent decades, other ethnic groups have settled in New Mexico. In 2000, blacks constituted 1.9 percent of the population, Asians were 1.1 percent, and Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders were 0.1 percent. Those of mixed heritage or not reporting race were 21 percent.
New Mexico’s largest city is Albuquerque, which was one of the fastest-growing cities in the United States in the second half of the 20th century. From 35,449 in 1940 the city’s population rose to 504,949 in 2006.
Santa Fe (72,056 people in 2006), the state capital, is the second oldest city in the United States, after Saint Augustine, Florida. It is known for its narrow winding streets, adobe and colonial buildings, and restrictive zoning. Roswell (45,582) is the chief city of the Pecos Valley and eastern New Mexico. Las Cruces (86,268) and Alamogordo (36,069) are the main cities of the southern part of the state. Farmington (43,573) is the principal city in the northwest. Los Alamos (18,822) is a modern city located in the forest on the Pajarito Plateau along the eastern side of the Jemez Mountains. The site was selected by the federal government in 1942 as a location for nuclear research. Carlsbad (25,410) is famous for its underground caverns. Taos (5,193), although small, is one of the nation’s notable art centers.
Roman Catholics formed the largest single religious group in New Mexico, representing about one-third of all church members. The two largest Protestant denominations are Baptists and Methodists.
|V||EDUCATION AND CULTURAL INSTITUTIONS|
Throughout the periods of Spanish colonialism and government under Mexico, education in what is today New Mexico was largely in the hands of religious orders. Although a royal decree provided for a public school system for the territory in 1721, it was not until New Mexico became a United States territory in the 1850s that the first permanent schools were founded. The first public school law was passed in 1891.
Educational opportunities are available to all residents throughout the state and at virtually all levels. Navajo educational facilities include primary and secondary schools, a vocational training school, and a community college. Native American schools are generally subsidized by the federal government though some tribes have sought grants and provided their own funds to enhance government educational facilities.
Elementary and secondary public schools are controlled by a 15-member board of education, headed by an appointed superintendent of public instruction. Attendance is compulsory from ages 5 to 18. Some 7 percent of the children attend private schools. In the 2002–2003 school year New Mexico spent $8,469 on each student’s education, compared to a national average of $9,299. There were 15 students for every teacher (the national average was 15.9 students per teacher). Of those older than 25 years of age in 2006, 81.5 percent had a high school diploma, while the nation as a whole averaged 84.1 percent.
New Mexico had 28 public and 15 private institutions of higher learning in 2004–2005, a large number considering its relatively small population. Among the more notable is the University of New Mexico, in Albuquerque. The university also has branch campuses in Gallup, Valencia County, and Los Alamos; graduate centers in Los Alamos and Santa Fe; and an education center in Taos. Other public institutions of higher learning are New Mexico State University, in Las Cruces; New Mexico Highlands University, in Las Vegas; Western New Mexico University, in Silver City; New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology, in Socorro; and Eastern New Mexico University, in Portales. Private institutions include St. John’s College and the College of Santa Fe, both in Santa Fe; and United World College-USA, in Montezuma.
New Mexico has 89 public library systems, and a state library, which is in Santa Fe. State aid to rural libraries began with the establishment of the state library extension service in 1929. The public libraries annually circulate an average of 4.9 books for every resident. Among the special libraries in the state are those operated in conjunction with museums, the university libraries, and the scientific library at Los Alamos. The largest public library in New Mexico is in Albuquerque.
The state-run Museum of New Mexico was set up in Santa Fe’s Palace of the Governors in 1909. The museum includes the Museum of Fine Arts, the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture/Laboratory of Anthropology, and the Museum of International Folk Art. The Wheelwright Museum of the American Indian and the El Rancho de las Golondrinas are also in Santa Fe. In 1997 the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum, which exhibits paintings, drawings, and sculpture by the renowned artist who died in 1986, opened in Santa Fe. O’Keeffe’s home and studio, located in the small town of Abiquiu approximately 50 miles north of Santa Fe, is now owned by the Georgia O’Keeffe Foundation, and limited tours are made available to the public.
In the metropolitan area of Albuquerque there are several widely recognized museums and galleries. The Albuquerque Museum has collections of traditional and contemporary art from New Mexico and displays over 400 years of regional cultural history. The New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science features a collection of dinosaurs, a walk-through volcano, and an “evolution elevator.” The Indian Pueblo Cultural Center features performances of traditional Pueblo and other Native American dances and demonstrations of traditional crafts. Other museums in Albuquerque include the Maxwell Museum of Anthropology, the University Art Museum and Jonson Gallery, the National Atomic Museum, the National Hispanic Cultural Center of New Mexico, and the Explora Science Center and Children’s Museum of Albuquerque.
Other museums throughout the state cater to a variety of interests. At the Roswell Museum and Art Center is a collection of Robert H. Goddard’s experimental rockets. The Bradbury Science Museum at Los Alamos houses exhibits dealing with the history and current research of the Los Alamos National Laboratory. Museums displaying Native American, Spanish, and Mexican crafts, anthropological artifacts, pioneer relics, and objects of regional interest are housed at state and national monuments and at colleges and universities.
The first newspaper in New Mexico was El Crepúsculo de la Libertad (“The Dawn of Liberty”), issued in Santa Fe in 1834. In 1847 the Santa Fe Republican began publication, printing two pages in Spanish and two in English. In 2002 there were 15 daily newspapers. The Albuquerque Journal, the Albuquerque Tribune, the Las Cruces Sun-News, and the Santa Fe New Mexican have the largest circulations of the daily newspapers.
The first radio station licensed in the state, KOB in Albuquerque, began operation in 1922. KOB-TV in Albuquerque, New Mexico’s first commercial television station, began broadcasting in 1948. In 2002 New Mexico had 40 AM and 65 FM radio stations and 18 television stations.
|E||Music and Theater|
Spanish missionaries carried European theater traditions with them to New Mexico, where they merged with the Native Americans’ rich heritage of ceremony. This legacy continues in the state, with active community theaters operating in many locations. The Santa Fe Community Theater has performed since 1918, and the Albuquerque Little Theater was founded in the 1920s. Other theaters in the two cities specialize in musicals, contemporary, or experimental works.
The Santa Fe Opera performs in an outdoor theater in July and August. The New Mexico Symphony Orchestra, based in Albuquerque, was organized in the 1930s, and professional or semiprofessional orchestras are active in Roswell, Farmington, Las Cruces, Portales, and Santa Fe. The Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival began in 1973 and has inspired similar festivals in Taos and Angel Fire.
|VI||RECREATION AND PLACES OF INTEREST|
The rugged and spacious beauty of New Mexico’s mountains and deserts offers many recreational opportunities and places to visit. Ruins of early Native American civilizations, abandoned Spanish missions, crumbling military outposts, battlefields of the American Civil War (1861-1865), and deserted mining towns are reminders of the state’s colorful past. Pueblos that existed before the arrival of the Spanish conquistadores continue to flourish, as do Spanish and Mexican communities.
Outdoor sports can be enjoyed year-round in New Mexico. Fishing, boating, and water skiing are popular sports in the state’s lakes and reservoirs. Fly-fishing is a common sport on many streams and rivers in the state, and rafting and kayaking on the Río Grande below Taos are enjoyed by many people. Facilities for winter sports such as skiing and snowboarding are operated at nine resorts. Five national forests provide facilities for hiking, camping, and fishing.
Carlsbad Caverns National Park, in the southeast, is famous for the largest and most extensive underground caves and corridors found in North America. Eleven areas have been made national monuments. Near Alamogordo is White Sands National Monument, a huge desert of pure-white gypsum dunes. Bordering the monument are the military proving grounds where the first atomic bomb was tested in 1945. An extinct volcanic cinder cone rises 300 m (1,000 ft) in Capulin Volcano National Monument. El Malpais—“the badlands” in Spanish—is a volcanic area with a lava tube system 27 km (17 mi) long and ice caves. The area is also rich in ancient Pueblo history and features diverse ecosystems. Fort Union National Monument, north of Las Vegas, was once a military depot on the Santa Fe Trail. El Morro National Monument southwest of Grants, is a sandstone cliff popularly known as Inscription Rock. The oldest date on this historical autograph album is 1605, inscribed by Juan de Oñate, the Spanish colonizer of New Mexico. Salinas Pueblo Missions National Monument, near Mountainair, preserves a 17th-century Spanish mission.
The most notable and accessible ruins of prehistoric Pueblo culture in New Mexico have been made into national or state monuments. Aztec Ruins National Monument preserves the site of a 500-room dwelling occupied by the Pueblo (not Aztec) people during a period before the 14th century. Archaeological sites that provide glimpses into the 12,000 year span of human occupation of the Albuquerque area are preserved at Petroglyph National Monument. More than 15,000 Native American and Hispanic petroglyphs (images carved in rock) stretch 27 km (17 mi) along Albuquerque’s West Mesa escarpment. Chaco Culture National Historical Park has 13 major Native American ruins and hundreds of smaller sites representing the high point of Pueblo pre-Columbian civilization. Other Pueblo sites are at Bandelier National Monument and Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument, and at Pecos National Historical Park.
A bear cub rescued in May 1950 from a forest fire in the Capitan Mountains, located in Lincoln National Forest, became famous as Smokey Bear, living symbol of forest fire prevention. Named for Kit Carson, noted frontier scout, the Carson National Forest includes the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, and the highest point in the Southwest, Wheeler Peak. The Cibola National Forest encompasses four wilderness areas in central New Mexico: the Sandia Mountain, Manzano Mountain, Withington, and Apache Kid wildernesses. The Gila National Forest contains vast areas of rugged mountain ranges, little affected by civilization, and includes the Gila Wilderness Area. The Santa Fe National Forest is crowned by the spectacular Pecos Wilderness Area. Also in the state is the Kiowa National Grasslands and seven national wildlife preserves. Many migratory birds can be seen at the Bosque Del Apache National Wildlife Refuge on the Río Grande in central New Mexico.
New Mexico has 33 state parks and recreational areas. The state parks at Bluewater, Bottomless, Conchas, Elephant Butte, Navajo, and Storrie lakes have facilities for a variety of water sports. City of Rocks State Park has a desert setting, and Hyde Memorial State Park is in a forest high in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. Ruins of old pueblos are found at Jemez and Coronado state monuments, both located northwest of the town of Bernalillo. The state maintains the Old Lincoln County Courthouse, from which Billy the Kid escaped in 1881. El Palacio State Monument, the Palace of the Governors, is in Santa Fe. This adobe structure, built around 1610, served as the seat of government during the successive periods of Spanish, Mexican, and finally U.S. territorial rule.
|D||Other Places to Visit|
A few blocks away from El Palacio is the Mission of San Miguel, dating from 1710. Mesilla and the Old Town in Albuquerque retain traces of Spanish occupation. White Oaks, Cabezon, Mogollon, and many other ghost towns re-create for the visitor the early ranching or mining days.
New Mexico’s traditions are preserved in its numerous Native American ceremonials, Spanish festivals, and rodeos. Popular events include the Santa Fe Fiesta commemorating the city’s conquest by the Spanish in 1692; the New Mexico State Fair in September in Albuquerque; the International Hot Air Balloon Festival in October in Albuquerque; and the Hatch Chile Festival in September. Native American dances include the Harvest Dance at Jemez Pueblo’s Fiesta of San Diego in November, and the Sun Dance at Taos Pueblo’s Fiesta of San Geronimo in September. The dramatic Shalako Ceremonial is performed by the Zuni in early winter. The International Ceremonial, held in Gallup each August, attracts Native Americans from as many as 30 ethnic groups. Taos hosts the April Talking Picture Festival, which features an international film festival and media literacy forum. Other popular annual events include the Deming Duck Races; Bernalillo Wine Festival; and the Whole Enchilada Fiesta and Annual International Mariachi Concert, in Las Cruces in October.
New Mexico is governed according to a constitution that became effective when statehood was achieved in 1912. Amendments may be proposed in either house of the legislature and must be approved by both houses and by a majority of the electorate before becoming law. A more complex process is necessary for amendments involving the right to vote, school lands, and the languages used in education.
New Mexico’s executive officers, who include the governor, lieutenant governor, secretary of state, treasurer, attorney general, auditor, and land commissioner, are elected for four-year terms and cannot serve consecutive terms.
The state legislature consists of a Senate and a House of Representatives. The 42 senators are elected for four-year terms, and the 70 representatives for two years. The legislature convenes annually on the third Tuesday of January for sessions not exceeding 60 days in odd-numbered years and 30 days in even-numbered years. There are also special sessions.
The judicial branch of government is headed by a supreme court of five justices, who are elected for staggered terms of eight years. New Mexico also has an appellate court, district courts, juvenile and probate courts in each county, and municipal and magistrate courts in more densely populated areas. All judges in the state are elected.
Each county is governed by a board of three to five commissioners, who are elected for two-year terms. Municipalities are incorporated as cities, towns, or villages, with their own governments. The Native Americans have their own forms of self-government by way of reservation elective councils.
In addition to its two senators, New Mexico elects three representatives to the Congress of the United States giving the state a total of five electoral votes.
The first known inhabitants of what is now New Mexico were members of the Clovis and Folsom cultures, so named because the first remains of their cultures were found near the towns of Folsom and Clovis. These early nomads may have lived more than 10,000 years ago. Later Native American cultures practiced farming and irrigation. The Anasazi culture flourished in the San Juan River Basin in the 1st millennium ad. By AD 1300 thousands of Pueblo people, descendants of the Anasazi, lived in several towns along the Río Grande from Taos south to Isleta (below present-day Albuquerque). The Pueblo were advanced in domestic arts and crafts—pottery, weaving, and home decoration. Some of their adobe dwellings were five stories high. They domesticated turkeys, and in the fields near their towns, they raised corn, beans, and squash for food and cotton for weaving into blankets. In southwestern New Mexico a people called the Mogollon, whose culture included elements of Anasazi culture, built massive cliff dwellings in the 13th century, which they appear to have abandoned soon afterward.
In the 15th century the lives of the Pueblo were disrupted by the arrival of the nomadic Navajo and Apache peoples. The newcomers raided the prosperous Pueblo settlements for food, clothing, tools, and Pueblo children, whom they enslaved, initiating four centuries of warfare between the two groups.
|B||Arrival of the Spanish|
The first European to approach present-day New Mexico was Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca, who was shipwrecked with about 300 men on the Texas coast in 1528. The expedition also included Estevanico, a slave from Azamor, Morocco. Only Estevanico, Cabeza de Vaca, and two others survived the Native American attacks and disease. Cabeza de Vaca led the group west across Texas and then south to Mexico City on what became an eight-year journey, during which he and Estevanico gained the friendship of many Native American peoples, who told them about a kingdom of wealth called the Seven Cities of Cíbola. Cabeza de Vaca’s report about the possibility of wealth interested the viceroy of New Spain.
In 1539 Estevanico guided a small band led by Father Marcos de Niza that set out to find the Seven Cities. Although he found no riches, De Niza reported that he had sighted one of the cities. Zuni Pueblo killed Estevanico on this expedition. In 1540 a stronger party led by Francisco Vásquez de Coronado visited the Pueblo country of New Mexico but found no treasure. Coronado discovered that the Seven Cities of Cíbola were actually pueblo communities of the Zuni people that contained little wealth. He then headed northwest to find Tusayan, a group of Hopi pueblos rumored to contain many riches. Again he was disappointed by the simple villages he encountered. From Tusayan, Coronado dispatched a small party west under Garcia López de Cárdenas that was the first group of Europeans to see the Grand Canyon of the Colorado River.
|C||Conquest of New Mexico|
In 1581 a party of soldiers and missionaries from Santa Barbara, on the northern frontier of New Spain, traveled to New Mexico to find out more about the Pueblo peoples. After an extensive survey of the country, the missionaries stayed and the soldiers returned to New Spain. In 1582 an expedition led by Antonio de Espejo set out for New Mexico, mainly to find out what had happened to the missionaries. After learning that they had been killed, Espejo returned, searching for minerals along the way.
The king of Spain did not support efforts to colonize New Mexico in 1590 and 1593 that eventually failed, but in 1595 Juan de Oñate, born in New Spain (now Mexico) and related by marriage to Hernán Cortés and to the Aztec ruler Montezuma II, won a royal contract to settle the region. Oñate’s expedition left in 1598. When it reached the Río Grande near present-day El Paso, Texas, Oñate took possession of New Mexico for Spain. Proceeding upstream, the Spanish reached a pueblo near the junction of the Río Grande and the Rio Chama, renamed it San Juan de los Caballeros, and decided to build the capital of New Mexico near there, calling it San Gabriel.
As governor of New Mexico, Oñate extensively explored the present-day Southwestern United States to fulfill the terms of his royal grant. He went as far north as Kansas in 1601, and in 1604 he journeyed to the Gulf of California, on the return trip inscribing his name on the high rock of El Morro, a few miles east of Zuni Pueblo.
The economic failure of his colony and his abuses of power brought Oñate into disfavor in 1606. He was removed from office the next year and replaced by Pedro de Peralta, who founded a new capital for the colony at Santa Fe in 1610. Despite the lack of gold and silver, Spain retained possession of New Mexico in order to continue missionary work among the Native Americans.
As the colony grew slowly in the 17th century, the Pueblo peoples became increasingly hostile to the Spanish, who frequently compelled them to work as slaves. In addition, the missionaries often imposed Christianity on them by force. When it became apparent that Christianity was not replacing indigenous religious beliefs, priests tried to prevent native ceremonies. As a result, minor revolts against the Spanish occurred sporadically from 1640 until 1680. That year a medicine doctor of the Tewa Pueblo named Popé, supported by the Apache, led a rebellion against the Spanish, destroying the missions and killing priests and Spanish colonists. The Spanish returned in force, reoccupying Santa Fe in 1692, and by 1696 they had reconquered the whole area.
During the 18th century, colonization and trade increased in New Mexico. The Comanche and Apache to the east and the Ute to the north brought in skins, buffalo meat, tallow, and horses to exchange for manufactured goods. Annual trade fairs developed at Taos and Pecos. New Mexicans, in turn, went south to Chihuahua, Mexico, to exchange their goods for the European products brought in through Mexico City. Some covert trade developed with the French, who had claims to the region east of New Mexico, but the threat of French interference in New Mexico ended in 1763 when France transferred to Spain title to the lands west of the Mississippi River and north of the Arkansas River to the Rocky Mountains.
Through much of the 18th century the Navajo, Apache, Comanche, and other nomadic Native American peoples repeatedly raided both Spanish and Pueblo communities, and enough troops to defend the province were seldom available. Some of the Ute, Comanche, and Navajo agreed to peace treaties in the 1770s and 1780s, but the Apache in the southwest remained enemies of the Spaniards. By the end of the 18th century the Hispanic population had grown to about 20,000.
|G||Republic of Mexico|
In 1821 Mexico won its independence from Spain. The Spanish had excluded foreigners from New Mexico, but under Mexican rule, trade with the United States was permitted. The same year a merchant, William Becknell, brought a pack train from Franklin, Missouri, to Santa Fe. Pack trains began to move back and forth along the route, known as the Santa Fe Trail. American merchants and trappers came to Santa Fe and Taos. The trade also created friction between Americans of European origin who spoke English (called Anglos), on the one hand, and New Mexicans of mixed Spanish and Native-American ancestry and Native Americans on the other. By this time, those of entirely Spanish ancestry were few, but the Spanish culture was still dominant. Most inhabitants of New Mexico spoke Spanish and were members of the Roman Catholic church, although the Native Americans retained their dialects and traditional ceremonies.
As trade increased along the Santa Fe Trail in the 1830s and 1840s, U.S. government involvement in New Mexican affairs grew, creating more friction between Hispanic New Mexicans and U.S. citizens. In 1841, forces of the new Republic of Texas entered New Mexico, hoping to claim the land east of the Río Grande for Texas, but the Texans were captured and marched to Mexico City, where they were imprisoned and then later released.
|H||United States History|
The 1845 annexation of Texas, which continued to claim the land east of the Río Grande, encouraged U.S. expansionists to demand the annexation of all the Southwest and California. After moving U.S. troops to the mouth of the Río Grande, which Mexico considered a provocation, United States President James K. Polk declared war on Mexico in 1846 and sent General Stephen Watts Kearny and the Army of the West to invade New Mexico. Kearny took Santa Fe without firing a shot and claimed New Mexico for the United States on August 18, 1846. The Mexican War ended in 1848 with the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, which formally ceded New Mexico to the United States (see Mexican War).
The Congress of the United States created the Territory of New Mexico under the Compromise Measures of 1850, which were designed to ease the tension between the South and the North over the extension of slavery in the new territories. The compromise divided the area east of California into the territories of New Mexico (now New Mexico and Arizona) and Utah, and both were opened to settlement by both slaveholders and antislavery settlers.
In 1853 President Franklin Pierce sent railroad entrepreneur and diplomat James Gadsden to purchase territory from Mexico to use for a railroad. He reached an agreement for $15 million, which Congress later reduced to $10 million. The purchase added a considerable amount of new land south of the Gila River to New Mexico (see Gadsden Purchase).
During the American Civil War (1861-1865), New Mexico territory was temporarily controlled by the Confederacy. In July 1861 Texans captured the southern part of the territory, and the Confederacy organized the region south of the 34th parallel, calling it the Territory of Arizona. In 1862 the Confederates briefly captured Santa Fe but then lost their supplies at the Battle of Glorieta and were forced to withdraw from the territory. After the Confederate withdrawal, the U.S. government organized the Arizona Territory in 1863 in the western portion of the Territory of New Mexico, reducing New Mexico to its present boundaries.
|I||Economic and Social Development|
Mining quickly became a substantial industry. Gold had been discovered in the Ortiz Mountains in 1828 and at Pino Altos in 1860. Another gold strike occurred in north central New Mexico in 1867, and in 1869 the discovery of rich silver lodes caused a boom in the southwestern mountains, creating rough mining towns such as Elizabethtown and Silver City almost overnight. Coal mining developed west of Raton in the 1880s.
Sheep raising dominated New Mexico’s early livestock industry. Wool from the Spanish churro breed supplied local weavers, and throughout most of the 19th century large flocks were driven south and sold in the mining towns of northern Mexico. In 1866 Texas longhorn cattle were introduced, and large cattle ranches began appearing in New Mexico. These ranchers competed with sheepherders for water and land and frequently resorted to force to control these resources. As they became more powerful, some ranchers opened their own stores and banks. Other ranchers opened rival businesses, and as in the struggle for water, often the competition turned violent. Ranchers and businessmen hired bodyguards—sometimes even local law officials—for personal protection.
One of these intense rivalries led to the Lincoln County War, which lasted from 1878 to 1881. The war began after a sheriff’s posse and hired gunmen of a rival rancher and merchant murdered John Tunstall, who had opened a competing store and a bank. Tunstall’s own bodyguards included Billy the Kid, who then led a group of Tunstall employees seeking revenge. Billy had reportedly committed his first murder when he was 12, and eventually claimed to have shot and killed 21 men in his lifetime. In 1880 Sheriff Pat Garrett of Lincoln County captured Billy. Sentenced to hang, Billy killed two deputies and escaped from jail on April 28, 1881. Shortly after the escape, Garrett trapped and fatally shot Billy the Kid in Fort Sumner, New Mexico.
The arrival of large numbers of settlers after the railroad reached New Mexico in 1879 helped reduce the lawlessness of the cattle ranchers. Settlers fenced the land and began farming, slowly reducing the open range on which ranchers had built their fortunes. The dry land, however, was difficult to farm, and settlers turned to irrigation. The first large-scale irrigation project was in the Pecos River valley in 1890. Other private irrigation projects were undertaken during the 1890s, and the federal government built others after the turn of the century. Dry-farming techniques spread quickly, especially in the northeastern section of the territory.
New Mexico waited 62 years for statehood, partly because of prejudice against the predominantly Spanish-speaking, Roman Catholic population of the territory. Opponents also characterized New Mexico as an inhospitable land of uneducated settlers and wild Native Americans. But in 1910 Republican President William Howard Taft finally supported statehood. Congress permitted New Mexico to draw up a constitution, and on January 6, 1912, New Mexico became the 47th state of the Union.
|K||Growth as a State|
After 1912 the New Mexican economy expanded considerably. The tourist trade flourished; Native American ceremonies and crafts and the state’s natural scenic wonders proved strong attractions. The warm, dry climate drew many people concerned about their health. Mining also continued, and the first oil well was sunk in 1909; in 1922 commercial gas and oil production began.
In 1916 the Mexican rebel Francisco Villa, known as Pancho, led a band of revolutionaries into New Mexico and attacked Columbus after the United States had recognized Villa’s opponent in the struggle for power in Mexico, Venustiano Carranza. Villa and his men killed 18 Americans and burned much of the town. United States President Woodrow Wilson sent troops under General John J. Pershing after Villa, eventually crossing into Mexico itself to pursue him. Villa eluded capture, however, and increasing Mexican opposition to Pershing’s expedition caused Wilson to withdraw the force in 1917.
The United States entered World War I (1914-1918) soon after the Pershing expedition. About 17,000 New Mexicans served in the military during the war. In World War II (1939-1945), New Mexico contributed about 65,000 men. During the war the state’s economy benefited from large federal expenditures on military installations and nuclear research. In 1943 the U.S. government created the town of Los Alamos high in the Jemez Mountains as a nuclear research laboratory. The first atomic bomb was produced there and was tested on July 16, 1945, at Trinity Site in the White Sands Proving Grounds near Alamogordo. Federal expenditures at facilities such as the Department of Energy’s Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque continued to stimulate New Mexico’s economy in the postwar period.
On February 19, 1942, two months after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, that brought the United States into World War II, U.S. president Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, authorizing the removal of Japanese and Americans of Japanese descent from the West Coast. Many of these people spent the war at an internment camp at Lordsburg, New Mexico. Others, however, deemed for various reasons to be especially dangerous, were interned at a camp on the edge of Santa Fe.
Few of the first internees there were actually dangerous; but in 1945, approximately 300 militantly pro-Japan Japanese American men sent from the Tule Lake Relocation Center in California rioted when camp officials tried to remove their leaders and send them to other camps. After tear gas and hand-to-hand combat, camp guards put down the riot and seized the leaders, who were eventually deported to Japan after the war.
New Mexico’s population almost doubled between 1940 and 1960. Growth continued through the 1970s, accelerated after 1980, and the population exceeded 1.5 million as the end of the century neared. In 1969 New Mexico’s voters narrowly rejected a proposed new constitution that would have reduced the size of the government and redirected power in the state government away from the legislature and toward the governor. A variety of groups opposed the new constitution: some business leaders were against a government-appointed business commission; hunters feared the new constitution might lead to new restrictions on their activities; and Hispanics and Democrats, who were currently successful at the polls, opposed any reduction in the number of elective offices. However, in 1970 voters approved constitutional amendments extending the terms of office of all elected state officials from two to four years and granting cities more local autonomy and the power to impose taxes.
During the 20th century Native Americans in New Mexico used the courts to secure their rights. Native Americans won the right to vote in 1948, when a federal court set aside a provision of the state constitution. In 1970, after more than half a century of attempts to regain rights to the Blue Lake, which has religious significance to many in Taos Pueblo, the U.S. Congress transferred the area to the Pueblo.
In 1963 the state’s Hispanic residents began to seek redress for lands lost by their ancestors while New Mexico was a U.S. territory. The aggressive Alianza Federal de Mercedes (Federal Alliance of Land Grants), led by Reìes López Tijerina, argued that the U.S. government should reopen land-claim cases that had followed the Mexican War. The movement argued that the United States had failed to protect the land claims of Hispanics as it had been required to do under the terms of the 1848 Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo. In 1967 Tijerina raided a courthouse at Tierra Amarilla, freeing some of his imprisoned followers and taking two hostages. He was captured after an extensive search, and although acquitted of kidnapping, Tijerina was imprisoned on federal charges. In the 1990s, many Hispanic residents of Santa Fe began protesting the growth of Santa Fe, which had become a fashionable place for wealthy English-speakers to live. The influx of money to develop the town, however, began changing the Hispanic flavor of the city, and many Spanish-speaking residents objected.
In 1981 the U.S. Department of Energy began construction of its Waste Isolation Pilot Plant, an estimated $700-million facility near Carlsbad for the storage of radioactive waste material—by-products of nuclear weapons production—in salt beds more than 610 m (2,150 ft) below ground. Despite protests from environmentalists and antinuclear activists, the facility was scheduled to open in 1988. The opening was postponed that year, however, after scientists and engineers challenged the facility’s design and construction. In 1989 it was found that intense geologic pressure was causing the facility’s salt walls to close in on each other faster than expected. As a result, the facility’s opening was postponed pending more assurances of safety. The plant eventually opened in March 1999.
At the beginning of the 20th century, political power was concentrated in rural New Mexico, which held 86 percent of the population. By the 1990s, power had shifted to the state’s only metropolitan area, Albuquerque-Rio Rancho. This shift was accompanied by an increase in Republican voters in a state that for many years was dominated by Hispanic Democrats, especially in the north. The 1997 election of Republican Representative Bill Redmond to the Congress of the United States from the Third Congressional District was an example of this change. The new political climate also coincided with a decline in direct federal revenues to New Mexico and an expansion of the microelectronics industry. Intel Corporation led the trend with a multimillion-dollar plant at Rio Rancho.
New Mexico remains one of the poorest states in the country, and funding is particularly weak in areas such as health and education. Agriculture, ranching, mining, and timbering continue to be displaced by high-tech manufacturing and tourism. The rapid fall of oil prices in 1986 hurt the state’s petroleum industry, causing unemployment and a sharp fall in oil and gas tax revenues, to the detriment of state funding for education. In the early 1990s immigrants from California fueled a housing boom in Albuquerque and Las Cruces, while wealthy visitors stimulated the market for second homes in Santa Fe and Taos. Despite the immigration, per capita income in the state continued to decrease, and fewer city residents were able to purchase homes.
New Mexico’s Native Americans, facing cuts in funding from the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the Indian Health Service, continue to diversify their economies. Native Americans have bought shopping centers, built resorts and gambling casinos, and invested in real estate.
The history section was contributed by Marc Simmons. The remainder of the article was contributed by Stanley A. Morain.