Bernalillo County Logo

Brief Timeline of New Mexico History



23,000-10,000 BC The Sandia Cave provided human shelter back to this period and was excavated by archologist Frank Hibben in the 1930s after it was discovered by Boy Scouts.
919AD-c1130 AD Pueblo Bonito, Chuco Canyon Nat'l Monument in Northern New Mexico had its ceremonial room completed. Occupancy lasted till c1130.
1000-1150 AD In the Mimbres Valley the local people made a black-on-white pottery.

1492 AD

Christopher Columbus discovers the New World

1493 Columbus discovers Cuba and Jamaica on his second voyage
1498 Columbus makes his 3rd voyage. Discovers Gulf of Paria, Island of Trinidad, Venezuela
1499 Alonzo de Ojeda sailed along mainland from the equator to Cape la Vela in Columbia; led expedition into Venezuela
1500 Vicente Pinzon and Juan Dias de Solis discovered Brazil before Cabral
1500-1502 Rodrigo de Bastidas and Juan de la Cosa sailed northern shore of Columbia, discoverd Darien and Panama
1502 Columbus makes his 4th voyage along eastern coast of Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Puerto Rico; reached Columbia
1508 Juan Dias de Solis explored Argentina.
Juan Ponce de Leon is governor of Hispanola and conquered Puerto Rico
1513 Vasco Nunez de Balboa explored Pacific coast of Panama and discovers Pacific Ocean.
Juan Ponce de Leon discovered Florida.
1516 Juan Dias de Solis explored Uruguay.
1517 Francisco Hernandez de Cordoba explored Yucatan


Juan de Grijalava discovers Mexico

1519 City of Panama founded.
Alonzo de Pineda explored gulf Coast of USA


Ferdinand Magellan sailed around the southern end of South America and crossed Strait of Magellan, named Pacific Ocean, discovered Philippines.
Hernan Cortes conquered Mexico and explored Gulf of California

1521 Francisco Gordillo and Pedro Zuexos explored eastern seaboard of USA.
1522-24 Gil Gonzales de Avila and Francisco Hernandez de Cordoba explored Nicaragua and founded Granada and Leon.
1523 Gil Gonzales Davila conquered Nicaragua
1524 Hernando Cortes conquered Honduras.
Pedro de Alvarado conquered Guatemala and El Salvador.
1525 Hernando Cortes completed conquest of Central America.
Sebastian Cabot discovered Espiritu Santo, Paraguay; and explored La Plata River
1526 Francisco Montejo conquered Yucatan
1528 Panfilo de Narvaez conquered Cuba and explored Florida


Alvar Cabeza de Vaca explores Texas, Arizona and New Mexico

1531-42 Francisco Pizarro conquered Peru
1533-38 Sebastian de Benalcazar conquered Ecuador and founded Quito.
1535 Diego de Almagro entered Chile.
Pedro de Mendoza founded Buenos Aires
1536 Pedro de Mendoza explored Paraguay
1538 Domingo Martinez de la Irla founded Asuncion, Paraguay.
First exploration of Bolivia
1539 Hernando de Soto explored Florida, SC, AL, GA, MS, AR and TN in United States
1540 Gonzalo Pizarro explored the Amazon area.
Francisco de Orellana traces source of Amazon River to Atlantic Ocean.
Garcia Lopez de Cardenas discovers the Grand Canyon.


Francisco Vasquez de Coronado began his unsuccessful search for the fabled Seven Cities of Cibola in the American Southwest. He explored AZ, NM, Grand Canyon, TX panhandle, KS and CO

1541 Pedro de Valdivia conquered Chile and founded Santiago
1542 Rey Lopez de Villalobos explored the Philippines.
Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo discovered San Diego Bay, California
1546 Potosi, Bolivia founded.
1548 Alonzo de Mendoza founded La Paz, Bolivia.


Francisco de Ibarra explored New Mexico

1565 First settlement at Cibu, Philippines is established by Spanish Mexicans.


Francisco Sanchez Chamuscado explored NM


Don Antonio Espejo explored NM


Juan de Humana and Francisco Leiva Bonilla explored NM and CO as far as the Purgatoire River


Don Juan de Onate brought first colony to NM, explored NM, CO and KS


Juan de Zaldivar came into CO, entered the San Luis Valley

1598 Juan de Archuleta explored Colorado as far as Kiowa County.
1602 Sebastian Vizcaino discovered Bay of Monterey.
1605 Don Juan de Onate reached the South Sea and wrote on Inscription Rock on his return
1610 In Santa Fe, New Mexico, the Spanish built the block long adobe El Palacio as a seat for the governor-general.
1680 Aug 13, War started when the Spanish were expelled from Santa Fe, New Mexico, by Indians under Chief Pope. Aug 21, Pueblo Indians took possession of Santa Fe, N.M., after driving out the Spanish. They destroyed almost all of the Spanish churches in Taos and Santa Fe.
1687-1704 Father Eusebio Kino explored Primeria Alta, North Sonora, Southern Arizona, established Dolores mission and another in Lower California.


Francisco de Vargas reconquered New Mexico and entered the San Luis Valley

1706 Juan de Ulibarri crossed Colorado as far as the Arkansas Valley into Kiowa County.
San Felipe Church in Albuquerque, N.M., was founded.
1712 In Mexico Maria de Ortiz Espejo was convicted by the Inquisition of telling women that hummingbirds and earthquakes could help them get pregnant. She got off with a warning.
1719 Antonio Valverde y Cosio explored Colorado as far as the Platte River, and explored Kansas
1720 Pedro de Villasur came into Colorado and Nebraska
1733 La Iglesia de Santa Cruz de la Canada was built. It is the oldest and most formal of the 6 adobe missions scattered along the western shoulder of the Sangre de Cristo mountains between Taos and Santa Fe. It features the art work of primitive artist Jose Rafael Aragon, who was buried here in 1862.
1752 Tubac established first Spanish colony in Arizona.
1769-70 Gaspar de Portola established Presidios (military forts) in San Diego and Monterey
1769-73 Father Junipero Serra established first mission in San Diego
1774 Juan Bautista de Anza and Francisco Tomas Graces explored route overland to California
1775 Juan Bautista de Anza and Francisco Tomas Graces led group of settlers overland to San Francisco
1776 San Francisco founded.
Dominguez and Escalante explored western Colorado and returned through Arizona.
1779 Juan Bautista de Anza came into Colorado in pursuit of rebel Indian, Cuerno Verde, in the Green Mountain area.
1821 William Becknell led a group of traders from Independence, Mo., and arrived in Santa Fe, N.M., on the route that will become known as the Santa Fe Trail.
1846 Aug 18, U.S. forces led by Gen. Stephen W. Kearney captured Santa Fe without a shot being fired. Kearny (1794-1848) then served as military governor of New Mexico for a month.
Aug 22, The United States annexed New Mexico. The US pledged to honor the land grants in northern New Mexico that were awarded by the Spanish and Mexican governors of the territory.
1847 New Mexico Governor Charles Bent was slain by Pueblo Indians in Taos.
1857 Army Lt. Joseph Ives surveyed the Grand Canyon with "wondering delight," but concluded that it was "altogether valueless." His chief scientist John Strong Newberry declared that it was a geological paradise.
1860 The 95,000 acre Baca Ranch was founded undera land grant to a Spanish leader. The property contained the Valles Caldera, the collapsed crater of an ancient volcano. The property was sold to James P. Dunigan, an oil man, in 1962 for $2.5 mil. It was sold to the US government in 1999 for $101 million.
1862 The Texas Rangers won a Confederate victory in the Battle of Val Verde, New Mexico.
1869 John Wesley Powell led an expedition to explore the canyons of the Green and Colorado River. Over 3 years he led two expeditions to explore the Grand Canyon. Three members of the first expedition were killed, reportedly by Indians. His written account was suspected to be inflated if not fictitious. A 1997 novel by Oakley Hall, "Separations," depicted the events.
1878 Feb 18, The bitter and bloody Lincoln County War began with the murder of Billy the Kid's mentor, Englishman rancher John Tunstall. Hired killers of James J. Dolan gunned down John Tunstall in Lincoln, N.M. Tunstall's partner Alexander McSween formed a posse known as the Regulators to get even. Billy the Kid was part of the posse.
Oct 1, General Lew Wallace was sworn in as governor of New Mexico Territory and served to 1881. He offered amnesty to many participants of the Lincoln County War, but not to gunfighter Billy the Kid.
1880 Gen. Lew Wallace (1827-1905) of Indiana published "Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ." Some of book was written while Wallace was living in Santa Fe at El Palacio as the Territorial governor in the 1870s.
1881 Apr 28, Billy the Kid was held in Lincoln County Courthouse jail, near Carrizozo N.M., but escaped and killed two guards. He used an 1876 single-action army revolver made by Samuel Colt.
In July Billy the Kid aka William Bonney or Kid Antrim, was shot and killed by Sheriff Pat Garrett in Fort Sumner, New Mexico. Billy had been held in Lincoln County Courthouse jail but escaped and killed two guards. The Kid had fled to Fort Sumner and on a tip, Garrett set out toward Fort Sumner to find him, with lawmen John Poe and Thomas C. "Kip" McKinney. According to some, Pete Maxwell had alerted Poe to the Kid's whereabouts. Many details about Billy the Kid's death are controversial but, apparently, as he was returning to Maxwell's house he came upon Poe and McKinney outside, unsure of whether they were friends or foes. Garrett was awaiting inside, and as the Kid entered the room, Garrett shot him above the heart.
1882 Nov 2, Newly elected John Poe replaced Pat Garrett as sheriff of Lincoln County, New Mexico Territory.
1893 Mar 10, New Mexico State University canceled its first graduation ceremony, because the only graduate was robbed and killed the night before.
1898 A film was made in New Mexico for the first time.
1912 On January 26, New Mexico becomes 47th state.
Arizona becomes 48th state.
1915-1929 Alfred V. Kidder, archeologist, excavated numerous bones of Indians buried in the upper Pecos Valley of New Mexico. In 1999 the bones of nearly 2,000 Indians were returned by Harvard Univ. to New Mexico for burial.
1916 Mar 9, Columbus, New Mexico, was raided at night by hundreds of Pancho Villa's horsemen. 17 Americans were killed as the town was looted and burned. President Woodrow Wilson responded by ordering General John J. "Black Jack" Pershing to "pursue and disperse" the bandits.
Mar 19, The First Aerosquadron took off from Columbus, NM to join Gen. John J. Pershing and his Punitive Expedition for Pancho Villa in Mexico.
1926 1926 Nicolai Fechin (1881-1955), painter, moved to Taos, New Mexico, in 1926 and turned his home into a work of art now known as the Fechin Institute. He was born in Kazan, Russia and emigrated in 1923. He died on the West Coast. His work includes "Russian Singer with Fan"
1929-1949 Georgia O'Keeffe comes to visit Mabel Dodge Luhan in Taos, begins painting New Mexico. She used the Rancho de los Burros on Ghost Ranch in New Mexico as her summer home. The site abuts the Carson National Forest, rich in dinosaur bones. Ghost Ranch is now a conference center and 21,000 acre preserve owned by the Presbyterean Church. Her winter home was down the road in Abiquiu.
1930 In Roswell, Robert Goddard begins rocket experiments.
The Sandia Cave (23k-10k BC), possibly the earliest known human shelter in North America, was excavated by archologist Frank Hibben after it was discovered by Boy Scouts.
1942 Navajo U.S. Marine "code talkers" sent to Guadalcanal.
1945 World's first atomic bomb explodes near Alamagordo, NM.
1947 UFO(?) crashes near Roswell, NM.
1949-1984 Georgia O'Keeffe lived in a remodeled adobe house on 3 acres in Abiquiu.
1953 The film "Salt of the Earth" was written by Michael Wilson, directed by Herbert Biberman and produced by Paul Jerrico (d.1997 at 82). All three men had been blacklisted by HUAC. The film chronicled a long strike by Mexican-American zinc miners in New Mexico.
1954 The town of Madrid was put up for sale in the Wall Street Journal for $250,000. There were no buyers. Madrid later became an artist's colony and the final stop along the Turquoise Trail along Route 14.
1957 Buddy Holly and the Crickets cut demo version of "That'll Be the Day" in Clovis NM.
The Santa Fe Opera began its summer festival under founder John Crosby.
1960s Families of the pre-1846 land grants of northern New Mexico seized a courthouse, destroyed property and threatened a rebellion over holdings that had been whittled away over the years.
1970 The U.S. Senate voted to give 48,000 acres of New Mexico back to the Taos Indians.
1975 Bill Gates and Paul Allen start Microsoft in Albuquerque. The MITS Altair 8800 was introduced by Microinstrumentation & Telemetry Systems of Albuquerque, N.M. It was sold by mail-order and Bill Gates and Paul Allen developed the first software program for it.
1984 The Santa Fe Institute was founded as a nonprofit research and education center. It specialized in the interdisciplinary study of complex systems.
1988 The Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) near Carlsbad, N.M. was completed. It received its 1st shipment of nuclear waste in 1999.
1992 The International UFO Museum and research Center opened in Roswell, New Mexico
1995 The Taos Talking Pictures Festival began.
1997 The Georgia O'Keeffe Museum opened in Santa Fe.
1998 It was reported that the US government conducted a series of "sub-critical" underground explosions involving radioactive plutonium in a sealed chamber 960 feet below ground at the Los Alamos National Lab.
Federal regulators approved a plan to store nuclear bomb waste in the New Mexico at the Waste isolation Pilot Project (WIPP).
The $77 million Sloan Digital Sky Survey was reported to be about to start probing the universe.
1999 The Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) near Carlsbad, N.M. received its first shipment of nuclear waste. The facility was completed in 1988. Idaho Gov. Dirk Kempthorne announced the movement of plutonium-contaminated waste out of Idaho to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant
In Santa Fe 34 tribes filed a multibillion-dollar lawsuit against the nation's largest tobacco companies.
2000 A controlled burn Bandolier National Monument near the Los Alamos National Laboratory blew out of control and 500 people were forced to evacuate the area. The fire at Los Alamos, New Mexico covered 30,000 acres with 191 housing structures burned.

Return to home page

Copyright 1999-2007 by Vikki Gray and Angela Lewis for the benefit of the NM GenWeb Project. All rights reserved. This site may be freely linked to, but not duplicated, in any fashion without my consent. Background and title banner graphics property of Vikki Gray.