New Mexico: Other Historic Sites Summary

  • Last updated on November 10, 2022

A list of important historic sites in New Mexico.

Big Bead Mesa

Location: Near Ojo del Padre, Sandoval County

Relevant issues: American Indian history

Statement of significance: Occupied from about 1745 to 1812, this is an impressive fortified Navajo village site. After moving into the Big Bead Mesa region, the Navajos established a stronghold that menaced the pueblos of Laguna and Ácoma and formed an alliance with the Gila Apaches. The site is an important representative of patterns of trade and raiding that characterized Navajo relations with Pueblos, Apache, and Hispanics.

Folsom Site

Location: Folsom, Colfax County

Relevant issues: American Indian history

Statement of significance: The archaeological discoveries at this site confirmed theories of the early advent of humans in America.

Georgia O’Keeffe Home and Studio

Location: Abiquiu, Rio Arriba County

Relevant issues: Art and architecture

Statement of significance: Georgia O’Keeffe (1887-1986) occupies a pivotal, pioneering position in American art. She created her own style by adapting early modernist tenets to quintessentially American motifs. Her stark paintings of cattle skulls bleached by the desert sun are familiar to all. From 1949 until her death, O’Keeffe lived and worked here at Abiquiu. The buildings and their surroundings, along with the views they command, inspired many of her paintings, and continue to provide great insight into her vision. The home and studio are maintained by the Georgia O’Keeffe Foundation and are open to the public.

Glorieta Pass Battlefield

Location: Santa Fe, Santa Fe County

Relevant issues: Civil War, military history

Statement of significance: In February, 1862, a Confederate brigade of 2,500 Texans marched up the Rio Grande Valley, with the intention of driving through Albuquerque and Santa Fe, and on to Denver; 1,300 federal soldiers moved to intercept them. The armies met at Glorieta Pass in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. The Battle of Glorieta Pass (March 26-28, 1862) ended a Confederate invasion of New Mexico that threatened to seize a large part of the Southwest.

Hawikuh

Location: Zuñi, Valencia County

Relevant issues: American Indian history, European settlement, Latino history

Statement of significance: Established in the 1200’s and abandoned in 1680, the Zuñi pueblo of Hawikuh, largest of the “Cities of Cíbola,” was the first pueblo seen by Spanish explorers. In 1539, the black scout Estevan became the first non-Indian to reach this area; he was killed by the people of Hawikuh as he entered their city. The next year, when the Coronado Expedition reached the fabled pueblo, they found not gold but a small, crowded, dusty sandstone village.

Lincoln Historic District

Location: Lincoln, Lincoln County

Relevant issues: Cultural history, Western expansion

Statement of significance: This is one of the best preserved of the cowtowns that sprang up along the cattleman’s frontier in the years following the Civil War. To it drifted cowboys, badmen, gunfighters, rustlers, soldiers, and famous lawmen; it was the scene of courtroom battles, public executions, and gunfights. Disputes over water, government beef contracts, and grazing rights led to the armed conflict known as the Lincoln County War of 1878, which ended in a three-day gun battle on the streets of Lincoln.

Mesilla Plaza

Location: Las Cruces, Dona Ana County

Relevant issues: European settlement, Latino history

Statement of significance: Mesilla was founded in 1848 by the Mexican government to bring Mexican citizens from territory recently ceded to the United States into Mexican domain; by the terms of the Gadsden Purchase Treaty (1851), the town became part of the United States. The town retains the flavor of a Mexican village.

Raton Pass

Location: Raton, Colfax County

Relevant issues: Civil War, military history, western expansion

Statement of significance: In 1821, Raton Pass was “opened” for wagon traffic to Santa Fe by Captain William Becknell. The pass played a crucial role in Brigadier General Stephen Watts Kearny’s conquest of New Mexico in 1846, and the Colorado Volunteers’ stanching of the Confederate invasion in 1862. From 1861 to 1865 much of the traffic to Santa Fe crossed the Pass, as Confederate raiders and the threat of attack by some Southern Plains Indians halted traffic over the Cimarron Cutoff.

Seton Village

Location: Santa Fe, Santa Fe County

Relevant issues: Cultural history

Statement of significance: The Village grew up around the forty-five-room “castle” built by Ernest Thompson Seton (1860-1946), artist, author, scientist, and one of America’s greatest naturalists. Seton was chair of the committee that brought the Boy Scout movement to the United States; he served as Chief Scout and wrote the first Scout manual.

Trinity Site

Location: Bingham, Socorro County

Relevant issues: Military history, science and technology

Web site: www.wsmr.army.mil/paopage/pages/trinst.htm

Statement of significance: Here, on the bleak and barren desert of the Jornada del Muerto, the world’s first atomic device was exploded on July 16, 1945, at 5:29:45 a.m.

Village of Columbus and Camp Furlong

Location: Columbus, Luna County

Relevant issues: Military history

Statement of significance: On March 9, 1916, approximately 485 Mexican revolutionaries under the command of General Francisco “Pancho” Villa (1878-1923) crossed into the United States and attacked the sleeping border town of Columbus, killing ten civilians and eight soldiers. Without consulting the Mexican government, President Woodrow Wilson ordered a punitive expedition, led by General John J. Pershing, into Mexico to capture Villa and prevent further raids across the international border.

Watrous (La Junta)

Location: Watrous, Mora County

Relevant issues: Western expansion

Statement of significance: Here, at the settlement of La Junta de los Rios Mara y Sapello, the Mountain and Cimarron Cutoff Routes of the Santa Fe Trail joined. Wagon trains organized here before entering hostile Indian territory. In 1879, the Santa Fe Railroad laid out the present town of Watrous to the east.

White Sands V-2 Launching Site

Location: White Sands Missile Range, Dona Ana County

Relevant issues: Aviation history, science and technology

Statement of significance: This site is closely associated with U.S. testing of the German V-2 rocket, the origins of the American rocket program, and the leadership of Dr. Wernher von Braun (1912-1977). The V-2 Gantry Crane and Army Blockhouse here represent the first generation of rocket testing facilities that would lead to U.S. exploration of space.

Zuñi-Cíbola Complex

Location: Zuñi, Valencia County

Relevant issues: American Indian history

Statement of significance: A series of sites on the Zuñi Reservation, containing house ruins, kivas, pictographs, petroglyphs, trash mounds, and a mission church and convent. They have proven to be an important source of material for ethnological studies of the early Zuñi, Mogollon, and Anasazi cultures. They include the Village of the Great Kivas, Yellow House, Hawikuh, and Kechipbowa.

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