(literally to give aid, to give succor) was indeed a source of help to the first expedition of Spanish families traveling north from Mexico in 1598, led by Don Juan de Oņate y Salazar. Socorros first inhabitants, Piro-speaking people of the Teypana Pueblo, welcomed the scouting party of Oņate and his men. They showed no fear of the strangers, according to Oņates official log, and with hand signs told the group what lay ahead. When the Teypana inhabitants unexpectedly gave the group a large gift of corn, Oņate renamed the pueblo Socorro.
Nothing remains of Teypana today, but on the east edge of Socorro County, the ruins of the vast Gran Quivira Pueblo stand as tribute to the great trade culture of the Pueblo Indians. One of three pueblos of the Salinas Missions National Monument, the ruins of Gran Quivira show the excellent masonry of their architecture.
Oņates expedition began a century of trade along El Camino Real (the Royal Road). From its early days of caravans bringing missionaries and supplies, the road over its 223-year history connected the New Mexico Territory to Mexico and Spain. Little parajes (resting places) sprang up along the Rio Grande from Paraje de Fra Cristobal, at the northern end of Jornada del Muerto, to Casa Colorado in the northern end of todays Socorro County. A bit of the oldest trail in North America can still be traversed along a dirt road section east of Escondida. El Camino Real is beginning to receive the recognition it deserves in history. A visitors center detailing the roads history opened in the fall of 2005 at the south end of Socorro County, overlooking a section of the historic El Camino Real.
San Miguel Mission, in the City of Socorro, was one of four missions built among the Piro Pueblos during the 1600s. Spanish families surrounded the mission, farming and ranching on land given them in Spanish land grants.
During the Pueblo Revolt of 1680, the Teypanas left with the Spaniards, establishing a new community further south. Socorro was not re-founded as a community again until late 1816.
Parishes Map, Archival Photos, San Miguel Art Source
: San Miguel Preserving Our History Ministry
In 1854, Fort Craig was built at the north end of Jornada del Muerto, to guard against Apache and Navajo raids and to protect El Camino Real. With the outbreak of the Civil War, the fort remained a Union Army Post. On February 21, 1862, Confederate troops under General H.H. Sibley engaged the Union Army troops under Colonel R.S. Canby. Confederates won the Battle of Valverde, fought upstream from the fort at the Valverde Crossing. Fort Craig later was home to the Buffalo Soldiers, regiments of Black soldiers who served after the Civil War.
The arrival of the railroad in the 1880s brought miners, merchants, and cattlemen to Socorro County. In the west, Magdalena became the center of mining activities and the End of the Trail for cattle drives from farther west. The town of Socorro sported a grain mill, a brewery and smelters to process the ores. California mission style homes and buildings took their place among the adobes in the booming towns. In 1889, the areas first university opened: the New Mexico School of Mines, now known as New Mexico Tech. NM Tech has garnered an international reputation in the sciences and is consistently rated as a top college nationally. The Tech campus is also home to the National Radio Astronomy Observatorys VLA and VLBA, and several associated entities.
The beginning of World War II saw an increase in activity in Socorro Countys southeast quarter. With the increase in temporary workers traveling through, San Antonios Frank Chavez answered a need by opening a small restaurant in his store, and created the first green chile hamburger at the Owl Bar and Cafe. The workers wouldnt say what they were doing but did tell residents to watch for something big on the morning of July 16, 1945. Many Socorroans remember the light of the first atomic blast at White Sands Missile Range. Trinity Site is now a monument, open twice a year. Placard describing "Jumbo" is here
: Submitted by Gwen Roath, former reporter, editor and current-publisher of Steppin Out, a bi-monthly guide to regional arts and events and the editor of the on-line magazine SONewMex.com.
Website URL: http://socorronm.org/about-socorro/history/
Juan de Oņate Image Source
Railroad archival photo