The state's landscape is diverse and includes deserts, mountains, and forests. It is home to several national parks and monuments, including Carlsbad Caverns National Park and the White Sands National Monument.
Dona Ana County, located in southern New Mexico, has a rich and diverse history that spans thousands of years. The area was originally inhabited by various Native American tribes, including the Mescalero Apache and the Jornada Mogollon. These indigenous peoples left behind evidence of their presence through rock art, pottery, and other archaeological sites.

In the 16th century, Spanish explorer Juan de Oñate arrived in the region and established the first European settlement, making this area one of the earliest colonized regions in the present-day United States. The Spanish named the settlement "San Juan de los Caballeros" and built a church and other structures that served as the religious and administrative center for the region. This settlement would later become the modern-day city of Mesilla.

Throughout its history, Dona Ana County experienced various conflicts and changes in ownership. The region was part of Mexico following Mexico's independence from Spain in the early 19th century, but it became part of the United States in 1853 with the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo. This treaty ended the Mexican-American War and shifted the international border between the two countries, placing the county within the territory of the United States.

During the American Civil War, Dona Ana County played a significant role as it was located near the border between the Union and Confederate territories. The Battle of Mesilla took place in 1861, which resulted in a Confederate victory and their control over the region for a short period. However, the county eventually came under Union control and played a key role in the Union's campaign to take control of the Southwest.

In the 20th century, the county's economy experienced a shift from agriculture to military and aerospace industries. White Sands Missile Range, established in 1945, became a major employer and contributed significantly to the county's economy. Today, Dona Ana County continues to evolve as a diverse and culturally rich region, with a population that is a blend of Native American, Hispanic, and Anglo heritage.

This timeline provides a concise overview of the key events in the history of Doña Ana County, New Mexico.

  • 1598: Don Juan de Oñate claims the area for Spain, establishing the first European settlement in what is now Dona Ana County.
  • 1821: Mexico gains independence from Spain, and the region becomes part of the Mexican territory.
  • 1846: The United States takes control of the area during the Mexican-American War.
  • 1852: Doña Ana County is officially established as a county in the New Mexico Territory.
  • 1881: Las Cruces is designated the county seat of Doña Ana County.
  • 1912: New Mexico becomes a state, with Doña Ana County as one of its original 33 counties.
  • 1916: The village of Mesilla, located within Doña Ana County, is incorporated.
  • 1945: The White Sands Proving Ground, now known as White Sands Missile Range, is established in the northern part of the county.
  • 1963: The Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument is created, preserving significant historical and natural resources in the county.