New Mexico History Timeline

By | May 12, 2022

The American Indians built amazing cliff dwellings in New Mexico centuries before the first Europeans arrived in the Americas, and the structural remnants of those cultures are spread across the state for all to see.

In 1536 the Spaniards reached this undiscovered land, and in 1540, V? squez de Coronado led an expedition north from Mexico City in search of the legendary ” Seven Cities of Gold.” He discovered the Grand Canyon and made it all the way to Kansas, but in the end those ” Cities of Gold ” turned out to be a fabricated legend.

Over the next sixty years, Spanish exploration continued here, albeit slowly. Missionaries and settlers traded with the local Pueblo Indians, and by the end of the 16th century, churches were being built, including the first in all of North America.

The Spanish named the land New Mexico, appointed a governor, and established Santa Fe as the capital; priests began to convert the local Indians to Christianity and many thousands of settlers moved in.

Dissatisfaction with Spain? s control grew, and in 1680, the Pueblo Indians revolted; they killed and terrorized the colonists; burned down their religious buildings and surrounded Santa Fe – forcing hundreds to flee to Mexico.

A decade has passed andthe Spaniards returned with only fifty soldiers; using diplomacy and a puffed up military bluff of force, the Pueblo people surrendered. Many years of bloodshed and warfare followed, including raids by Apache and Comanche Indians. In the end, battles were won and agreements were forged, as the Spanish settlers were very determined to stay here.

Following Mexico’s successful War of Independence from Spain in 1821, the Territory of New Mexico came under Mexican control. Then during the Mexican–American War (1846–1848), both America and Mexico fought for control of Texas. When that war ended, ( by convention) the rapidly growing US took possession of Texas, and what is now California, Nevada, Utah, parts of Arizona, Colorado and Wyoming, and of course the New Mexico Territory.

The American Civil War had little impact in New Mexico, but America’s westward expansion will change this land forever. A greedy rancher and lawyers tricked the local Indians out of their long held land, and eventually, tragically, the US army called the once-proud Apache and Navajo nations onto the reservation.

In the 1880s the railroads arrived; trade began to flow in and out, and the population expanded rapidly. It was still mostly lawless territory when it achieved statehood on January 6, 1912 as the 47th state.

New Mexico timeline

1200s – 1500s

  • (1200s – 1500s) Pueblo Indians established villages along the Rio Grande and its tributaries
  • (1536) Cabeza de Vaca, Estevan the Moor and others started rumors of the Seven Cities of Cibola (Gold)
  • (1540) Francisco Vasquez de Coronado, looking for that gold, discovered the Grand Canyon
  • (1598) Juan de Onate established San Juan de los Caballeros as capital


  • (1600) San Gabriel founded as second capital
  • (1601) Colonists left San Gabriel
  • (1609) Governor Pedro de Peralta established a new capital in Santa Fe
  • (1626) Spanish Inquisition set
  • (1641) Governor Luis de Rosas assassinated
  • (1680) Pueblo Indians forced colonists and Spaniards to retreat to Mexico

1700s – 1800s

  • (1706) Villa de Albuquerque founded
  • (1743) catchers reached Santa Fe
  • (1807) Zebulon Pike led the first Anglo-American expedition to New Mexico
  • (1821) Mexico declared independence from Spain ; Santa Fe trail opened
  • (1828) Gold discovered in Ortiz Mountains
  • (1837) Governor Albino Pérez and high officials killed in revolt against Mexican taxation
  • (1846) Mexican–American War begins; Stephen Watts Kearney took over New Mexico in the USA.
  • (1848) Mexican-American War ended; Agreement regarding Guadalupe Hidalgo signed
  • (1850) New Mexico designated territory; denied statehood
  • (1854) Gedsden Purchase added 45,000 square miles to territory
  • (1861) Allies invaded New Mexico; The territory lost its northernmost section; Arizona and Colorado Territories created
  • (1863-1864) Long Walk – Navajo and Apache moved to Redonda Bosque
  • (1868) Navajo and Apache return to their homelands
  • (1878) The railroad arrived
  • (1881) Billy, The Kid Shot
  • (1886) Geronimo Surrenders; Indian uprisings ended
  • (1898) Thomas Alva Edison produced the first motion picture in New Mexico


  • (1910) New Mexico Constitution drafted
  • (1912) New Mexico became the 47th state


  • (1916) Villa Francisco “Pancho” attacked Columbus, New Mexico
  • (1920) Women won the right to vote
  • (1922) Oil discovered on the Navajo Reservation
  • (1942) New Mexico Soldiers Summoned to Endure World War II Bataan Death March
  • (1945) The world’s first atomic bomb detonated in the bombed Trinity area of ​​southern New Mexico
  • (1947) Alleged UFO crash near Roswell
  • (1948) Native Americans won the right to vote in elections
  • (1950) Uranium discovered
  • (1980) Deadliest S. Prison Riot Happened at New Mexico State Penitentiary
  • (1982) Shuttle Columbia landed at Holloman Air Force Base
  • (1998) New Mexico celebrated cuartocentenario, the 400th anniversary of its founding


  • (2000) Valles Caldera National Preserve established
  • (2005) 65% of government employment was derived directly or indirectly from military spending
  • (2008) New Mexico had the highest poverty rate in the US
  • (2009) Death penalty abolished
  • (2010) Runway opened at the world’s first spaceport in New Mexico
  • (2010) Governor Richardson announced he would not forgive Billy the Kid
  • (2011) Fire forced officials to close Los Alamos National Laboratory, voluntary evacuation issued to residents

New Mexico History