NEW MEXICO


State Historic Sites & Points of Interest

The name New Mexico was first used by a seeker of gold mines named Francisco de Ibarra, who explored far to the north of New Spain in 1563 and reported his findings as being in “a New Mexico.” Juan de Oñate officially established the name when he was appointed the first governor of the new Province of New Mexico in 1598.

Francisco Vásquez de Coronado assembled an enormous expedition at Compostela in 1540–1542 to explore and find the mythical Seven Golden Cities of Cibola as described by Fray Marcos de Niza. The same year, he founded the San Juan de los Caballeros capital at San Gabriel de Yungue-Ouinge, the first permanent European settlement in New Mexico, and extended El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro, Royal Road of the Interior, by 700 miles.

As a result of the Pueblo Revolt, early cities were occupied by the Puebloan peoples until the Spanish returned after the death of the Pueblo leader Popé. The returning settlers founded La Villa de Alburquerque in 1706 as a trading center.

The claims for the province of New Mexico passed to independent Mexico in 1821 following the Mexican War of Independence. The Republic of Texas claimed the portion east of the Rio Grande when it seceded from Mexico in 1836. When the Louisiana Territory was admitted as a state in 1812, the U.S. reclassified it as part of the Missouri Territory.

During World War II, the first atomic bombs were designed and manufactured at Los Alamos, and the first bomb was tested at Trinity site in the desert between Socorro and Alamogordo on what is now White Sands Missile Range.