During World War II, New Mexico was the site of several top-secret military installations, including the Los Alamos National Laboratory, where the atomic bomb was developed. The laboratory is still one of the largest employers in the state and conducts research in fields such as nuclear energy and national security.
Socorro County, located in the central region of New Mexico, has a rich and diverse history that dates back thousands of years. The area was originally inhabited by various indigenous cultures, including the Piro and Tiwa peoples, who lived along the Rio Grande and cultivated crops such as corn and beans. In the 16th century, Spanish explorers led by Francisco Vasquez de Coronado arrived in the area, establishing settlements and introducing Christianity.

During the Spanish Colonial period, Socorro became an important stop along the Camino Real, the royal road that connected Mexico City to the northern provinces of New Spain. The town of Socorro was officially established in 1598 as the first Spanish villa in the Rio Grande Valley. It served as an agricultural and trade hub, with settlers cultivating crops and raising livestock. However, Socorro also faced challenges from various Indigenous groups and frequent raids from Apache and Comanche tribes.

In the mid-19th century, Socorro County experienced significant changes with the arrival of American settlers during the westward expansion. The town's location along the Camino Real made it a strategic point during the Mexican-American War, and it became a military headquarters for the US Army. Socorro County also played a role in the mining boom, as rich copper and gold deposits were discovered in the nearby Magdalena Mountains. Mining camps and boomtowns sprang up, attracting prospectors and immigrant workers.

In the 20th century, Socorro County further developed as an agricultural region, particularly in the production of pecans, chile peppers, and alfalfa. The nearby New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology (NM Tech) was established in the early 1900s, contributing to the growth of education and scientific research in the area. Today, Socorro County is known for its mix of cultural heritage, outdoor recreation opportunities, and research institutions. It continues to celebrate its diverse history through festivals, museums, and the preservation of historic sites.

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

  • 1598: Juan de Onate leads a Spanish expedition through present-day Socorro County.
  • 1680: Pueblo Revolt takes place, leading to the expulsion of Spanish settlers from Socorro County.
  • 1692: Spanish reconquest of New Mexico begins, leading to the resettlement of Socorro County.
  • 1815: Socorro becomes an official Spanish province.
  • 1848: Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo is signed, transferring Socorro County to the United States.
  • 1850: Socorro County is established as a county of the New Mexico Territory.
  • 1882: The Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway reach Socorro County, spurring economic growth.
  • 1909: New Mexico School of Mines (now New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology) is established in Socorro.
  • 1986: Very Large Array radio telescope is completed in the Plains of San Agustin.