Fascinating Facts

About New Mexico

From the booklet

"Did You Know New Mexico?"

By Melinda Mullins and Josh Bryant

       The worst disaster in U.S. mining history occurred in Dawson, in October 1913. An incorrectly set dynamite charge caused an explosion that killed 263 miners, sparing only a few. Ten years later, a mine train jumped the track and destroyed tunnel supports, killing another 124 miners. Some of them were sons of the men killed in the 1913 disaster.

       In 1901 outlaw Black Jack Ketchum was hanged in Clayton, but to the horror of onlookers, the noose actually took off his head. It later was sewn back on, so that Black Jack could have "a proper burial."

       Prior to 1863, the town of Mesilla was on the west side of the Rio Grande. But ever since a flood that year, it has been on the east side of the river.

       The rough-and-ready village of Loma Parda, west of Fort Union on New Mexico's Great Plains, harbored a group of prostitutes who did business out of nearby caves in the 1880s, until they made enough money to move into town. One of the best-known Fort Union prostitutes was called Adobe Mary.

       New Mexico's first American territorial governor, Charles Bent, was scalped alive by Indians, then killed in his home in Taos, while his wife and children escaped to safety by using kitchen utensils to dig their way through the back wall of their adobe home.

       The southern New Mexico city of Truth or Consequences was named for a popular radio and television quiz show of the 1940s and '50s. Historically called Hot Springs, the town voted for the change its name after the show's host, Ralph Edwards, promised to host a yearly festival for a community that would adopt his program's name. For more than 20 years he kept that pledge.

       Six of the North American continent's seven life zones are found in New Mexico, ranging from Arctic Alpine to Lower Sonoran Desert.

       Most of the Marlboro Man cigarette ads were shot in northeastern New Mexico, before the Marlboro Man died of lung cancer.

       In 1970, the Rio Grande became the nation's first official wild and scenic river, so designated by an act of the U.S. Congress.

       Taos has more artists per capita than Paris, France.

       The annual Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta is the largest hot-air balloon event in the world, and the most-photographed event of any kind. It was started in 1972, with just 13 balloons ascending from a mall parking lot.

       New Mexico's 121,666 square miles equal the combined land area of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey and Delaware. That's all of New England, plus three other states. New Mexico ranks fifth in land size, behind Alaska, Texas, Montana and California.

       In the southern New Mexico town of Lake Arthur, thousands of visitors come each year to see a tortilla with the image of Jesus Christ on it.

       Los Alamos has the highest concentration of Ph.D.'s of any community in the country.

       The tiny town of Cimarron in northeastern New Mexico was a stagecoach stop along the branch of the Old Santa Fe Trail that went to Taos. Notable folks who stopped in town and stayed at the still-open St. James Hotel included Buffalo Bill, Jesse James, Annie Oakley, Frederick Remington (who used the hotel for a base while he was painting in the countryside) and Zane Grey (who wrote "Fighting Caravans" while staying there).

       Eight hundred dinosaur footprints are fossilized in sandstone 18 miles north of Clayton, in New Mexico's northeastern corner.

       The "World's Richest Duck Race" takes place every August in Deming, near the Mexican border. It draws about 500 ducks and 25,000 spectators.

       In 1863 President Abraham Lincoln gave each of the 19 New Mexico Indian pueblos an ebony cane with a silver tip inscribed with his signature to reward them for remaining neutral during the Civil War. These canes are still passed down from governor to governor as a symbol of their authority.

       Within 10 months of Billy the Kid's death, eight novels had been published about him.

       Pancho Villa's 1916 attack on Columbus, NM, remains the only invasion of the United States since the War of 1812. Eighteen Americans were killed.

       Gangster Al Capone had a secret hideaway in Jemez Springs.

       Nine hundred buildings in Las Vegas, NM, are on the National Register of Historic Places. The city's Carnegie Library is modeled after Monticello, the home of Thomas Jefferson.

       A few of the movies filmed in New Mexico include: Oklahoma!, Hollywood or Bust!, The Cheyenne Social Club, Jonathan Livingston Seagull, The Man Who Fell to Earth, The Black Stallion Returns, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, City Slickers, Lonesome Dove and All the Pretty Horses. Some of the movies NOT FILMED in New Mexico are: In Old New Mexico, In Old Santa Fe, Lights of Old Santa Fe, Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid, Santa Fe, Santa Fe Passage, Santa Fe Marshal, Santa Fe Stampede, Santa Fe Trail and South of Santa Fe.

To order or purchase "Did You Know New Mexico? Startling Facts About the Land of Enchantment" by Melinda Mullins and Josh Bryant, visit or contact the Collected Works Bookstore, 208 W. San Francisco St., Santa Fe, NM 87501-6415, 505-988-4226.


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