New Mexico Fun Facts and Trivia


Santa Fe Palace of Governors

Santa Fe Palace of Governors

The Palace of the Governors in Santa Fe is the oldest government building in the nation.  The Spanish built it as part of a fortress during the winter of 1609-1610. In 1909, it was converted to the Palace of the Governors History Museum which houses exhibits on Spanish, Mexican, and American colonization dating back to the late 1500’s.

The Rio Grande, New Mexico’s longest river, running through the entire length of the state.

Las Cruces makes the world’s largest enchilada the first weekend in October at the “Whole Enchilada Fiesta.”

Santa Fe is the highest capital city in the United States at 7,000 feet above sea level.

The nation’s oldest surviving well along the Santa Fe Trail is Hay Springs Well in Las Vegas.

Albuquerque hosts the world’s largest hot air balloon festival the first weekend in October.

In Carrizozo, it is forbidden for a female to appear unshaven in public.

The leaves of the Yucca, New Mexico’s state flower, can be used to make rope, baskets and sandals.

The World Shovel Race Championships take place every winter at Angel Fire Resort.

Albuquerque features the American International Rattlesnake Museum, where you will not only receive an education about these creepy critters, but also a number of live specimens, including a rare albino rattlesnake.

Elizabethtown, now a ghost town in Colfax County, was the first incorporated town in New Mexico.

Located in a collapsed lave tube, the Bandera Ice Cave’s temperature never rises above freezing.  At the bottom of the 75 foot deep cave, the ice floor is 20 feet thick, believed to date back to 1100 B.C.

Las Vegas was the largest city in New Mexico at the turn of the 20th century. It was established long before its Nevada counterpart.

Blue Hole, an 81-foot deep natural artesian spring in Santa Rosa, is a favorite location for scuba divers. It’s 4,600 feet above sea level, making the bottom an equivalent of nearly 100 feet of depth in the ocean.

In some isolated villages in New Mexico, such as Truchas, Chimayo’, and Coyote in the north-central part of the state, some descendants of Spanish conquistadors still speak a form of 16th century Spanish used nowhere else in the world today.

White Sands National Monument is a desert, not of sand, but of gleaming white gypsum crystals.

Northeast New Mexico has more than 1,000 buildings listed on the National Historic Register.

Doc Holliday operated a dental office and a saloon and gambling hall in Las Vegas before moving on to Tombstone.

White Sands, New Mexico

White Sands, New Mexico

The world’s first Atomic Bomb was detonated on July 16, 1945 on the White Sands Testing Range near Alamogordo. Designed and manufactured in Los Alamos, the area of the first boming site is today known as the Trinity Site.

The first gold strike in the Old West was made by Jose Ortiz in 1832 south of Santa Fe, New Mexico, in what would quickly become the boom town of Delores.

Hatch, New Mexico is known as the “Green Chile capital of the world”.

Standing on the crest of 8,182-foot Capulin Volcano in Union County, you can see five states: New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas, Colorado and Kansas!

More than 500, 100-million-year-old dinosaur footprints have been identified and preserved at Clayton Lake State Park.

More than 25,000 Ancient Puebloans sites have been identified in New Mexico by archeologists. The Ancient Puebloans, an amazing civilization who were the ancestors of the Pueblo, where around for 1300 years. Their great classical period lasted from 1100-1300 AD.

New Mexico has seven National Forests including the nation’s largest, 3.3 million acre Gila National Forest which includes the Gila Wilderness.  Though many people picture New Mexico as desert terrain, ¼ of the state is actually filled with forests.

Las Vegas was New Mexico’s first territorial capital (for one day).

Bob Wills cut hair in a barber shop in Roy, New Mexico in his pre-Texas Playboys music days.

In 1950 the little cub that became the National Fire Safety symbol, Smokey the Bear, was found trapped in a tree when his home in Lincoln National Forest was destroyed by fire.

There are 19 Pueblo groups in New Mexico, speaking four distinct languages.  The Pueblo people of the southwest have lived in the same location longer than any other culture in the Nation.

The Navajo, are the United State’s largest Native American Group, with 78,000 members in New Mexico, and a reservation that covers 14 million Acres.

One out of three families in New Mexico speak Spanish at home.

Las Vegas, in San Miguel County, has 900 buildings in nine historic districts on the National Registry — more than any city in the United States!

Cleveland Roller Mill in Mora county, New Mexico

Cleveland Roller Mill in Mora county, New Mexico

The Cleveland Roller Mill in Mora County was the last flour mill to be built in New Mexico, the last to stop running and the only roller mill in New Mexico with its original milling works.

The NRA Whittington Center in Colfax County is the most comprehensive shooting facility in the United States with 14 ranges and service facilities for all shooting disciplines. National Championship events are held annually.

At Lake Valley, miners discovered silver in veins so pure that the metal could be sawn off in blocks, instead of having to be dug out by traditional methods.

Las Vegas provided 21 Rough Riders to Teddy Roosevelt in 1898, most of whom were at his side during the famed charge up San Juan Hill. The town hosted the first Rough Riders Reunion — attended by the soon-to-be President himself. Reunions continued until the 1960s.

In Las Cruces, it is against the law to carry a lunch box down Main Street.

The father of modern rocketry Massachusetts scientist Robert Goddard whom some called a crackpot, came to New Mexico in 1930 to test rocket-ship models. From those humble beginnings the aerospace industry became one of New Mexico’s leading industries.

The world’s largest camping facility, southwest of Cimarron, is where more than 18,000 scouts come from all over the world each year to enjoy treks and a variety of programs at Philmont Scout Ranch.

After WWII Los Alamos and Albuquerque had many new laboratories. Hundreds of highly educated Scientists and Engineers moved in the state. New Mexico soon had a higher percentage of people with Ph.D.s than any other state.

In New Mexico, it is against the law to dance around a Sombrero.

Thomas Edward “Black Jack” Ketchum is the only person hanged in Union County. He is also the only person hanged in New Mexico for the capital offence of “felonious assault upon a railway train.” The law was found to be unconstitutional, but after the hanging, unfortunately for Ketchum. Poor Black Jack is the only example in the annals of American jurisprudence in which the culprit was decapitated during a judicial hanging. There was one other example, in England, in 1601.

Public education was almost non-existent in New Mexico until the end of the 19th century. As late as 1888 there was not a single public college or high school in the entire territory.

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