Nestled in the fertile Mesilla Valley between the majestic Organ Mountains and the meandering Rio Grande, Las Cruces, New Mexico is quickly becoming a popular southwestern destination
Our ideal location at the crossroads of Interstate 10 and 25 brings visitors into contact with 72 holes of spectacular year-round golf, unique special events, historic attractions such as Old Mesilla – not to mention world-class Mexican food! Las Cruces also blends a unique variety of attractions, culture, historical sites and superb year-round weather with 350 days of sunshine per year!!
Las Cruces is the second most populous city in New Mexico, the county seat of DoÃƒÂ±a Ana County, and a United States Metropolitan Statistical Area. The city is the the home of New Mexico State University and the center[clarify] of an agricultural region in the Mesilla Valley irrigated by the Rio Grande.
Las Cruces Pioneer Days: Mesilla became the leading settlement of the area, with more than 2,000 residents in 1860, more than twice what Las Cruces had. When the Santa Fe Railroad reached the area , the landowners of Mesilla refused to sell it the rights-of-way, and instead residents of Las Cruces donated the rights-of-way and land for a depot in Las Cruces. The first train reached Las Cruces in 1881. Las Cruces was not affected as strongly by the train as some other villages, as it was not a terminus or a crossroads, but the population did grow to 2,300 in the 1880s.
Pat Garrett is best known for his involvement in the Lincoln County War, but he also worked in Las Cruces on a famous case, the disappearance of Albert Jennings Fountain in 1896.
Las Cruces Ghost Towns:Â Chloride, Located 60 miles north of Las Cruces on Highway 52, was settled in 1881 by miners after silver chloride ore was discovered nearby. The town grew to a population of 2,000, at one point boasting eight saloons, three general stores and 12 producing mines – the one in St. Cloud is still in operation. Today, about 20 people reside in Chloride.
Hillsboro:Â Located 70 miles north of Las Cruces on Highway 152, Hillsboro, was founded in 1877 as a gold miners town. Today, Hillsboros fortunes now rest on apples, not gold. There are quaint gift shops, restaurants, the Black Range Museum and the remains of the Sierra County Courthouse. The annual Hillsboro Apple Festival is held the first weekend in September.
Winston:Â Located 100 miles north of Las Cruces on Highway 52, Winston was first settled in 1881, growing to a population of 3,100 within three years. Today, the home and carriage house owned by founder Frank Winston still stands, along with an 1890s schoolhouse.
Chise, Cuchillo, Monticello, Placita & Kingston:Â Small, historic ranching towns along Highway 52 and 142 with plazas, churches and interesting old buildings.
Las Cruces in Modern Times
New Mexico State University was founded in 1888 as Las Cruces College, led by Hiram Hadley. It was established as the land grant college and experimental station by the State Legislature in 1889. Its name was changed to New Mexico College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts in 1890 :134 and to New Mexico State University in 1958.
Elephant Butte Dam was constructed to provide irrigation water for the Mesilla Valley. The project was approved by the United States Secretary of the Interior in 1895, but the project was in the courts for many years due to a rival proposal to build a dam near El Paso. The dam was finally completed in 1916.
During World War II, both German and Italian POWs worked at Las Cruces in the Emergency Farm Labor Program.
Since World War II the growth of the nearby White Sands Missile Range has made the defense industry a key part of the local economy.
In the 1960s Las Cruces undertook a large urban renewal project, intended to convert the old downtown into a modern city center. As part of this, St. Genevieve’s Catholic Church, built in 1859, was torn down to make way for the Downtown Mall.
In 1982, Las Cruces became the scene of the a new Roman Catholic Diocese, “Diocese of Las Cruces”, which encompasses the southern half of the state and is a suffragan of Santa Fe.
Las Cruces Recreation
With over 350 days of sunshine a year, Las Cruces provides visitors with an opportunity to enjoy a wide variety of indoor and outdoor activities year-round. Golf some of southern New Mexicos finest courses or learn about the life in the desert with a trip to the Chihuahuan Desert Nature Park. Spend the day shopping at the Mesilla Valley Mall, Laguna Seca Plaza or the Mesilla Plaza.