The state has a diverse population, with a significant number of Hispanic, Native American, and Anglo residents. The Spanish language and Hispanic culture have had a profound impact on the state's history and traditions.
Valencia County, located in the state of New Mexico, has a rich and diverse history that stretches back thousands of years. The area was originally inhabited by various Native American tribes, including the Piro, Tano, and Tiwa peoples. These indigenous communities developed advanced agricultural practices and established thriving settlements along the Rio Grande River.

The arrival of Spanish conquistadors in the 16th century brought significant changes to the region. In 1598, Juan de Oñate led an expedition that established several Spanish settlements, including the construction of a fort called San Gabriel near present-day Los Lunas. The Spanish colonizers introduced their language, culture, and Catholic religion to the indigenous population.

During the 19th century, Valencia County experienced an influx of American settlers, primarily due to the Santa Fe Trail, which passed through the area. This led to the establishment of trading posts and increased interaction between the Native American tribes and the newcomers. The community of Belen was founded during this time as an important railroad stop and agricultural center.

Valencia County played a notable role during the early 20th century in the development of military aviation. In 1918, the US Army established the Valencia Flying School near Los Lunas to train pilots during World War I. The region's open spaces and favorable weather conditions made it an ideal location for aviation training. This military legacy continued with the establishment of the Kirtland Air Force Base near Albuquerque, which has had a significant economic and cultural impact on Valencia County.

In summary, Valencia County has a long and diverse history, from its indigenous origins to Spanish colonization, American settlement, and military aviation. Today, the county is known for its agricultural heritage, beautiful landscapes, and proximity to urban centers like Albuquerque.

This timeline provides a glimpse into the major events and milestones that have shaped the history of Valencia County, New Mexico.

  • 1692: Don Diego de Vargas reestablishes Spanish rule in the area, including Valencia County.
  • 1821: Mexico gains independence from Spain, and Valencia County becomes part of the new Mexican territory.
  • 1848: The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo is signed, ending the Mexican-American War. Valencia County becomes part of the United States' New Mexico Territory.
  • 1876: Valencia County is officially established and named after the Valencia land grant.
  • 1880s: The arrival of the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway leads to increased settlement and economic growth in Valencia County.
  • 1916: The town of Belen is incorporated, becoming the county seat of Valencia County.
  • 1937: The Elephant Butte Dam on the Rio Grande is completed, creating Elephant Butte Lake and providing irrigation water for agriculture in Valencia County.
  • 1942: The Los Lunas Decalogue Stone, a controversial stone with inscriptions resembling the Ten Commandments, is discovered near Los Lunas.
  • 2021: Valencia County continues to thrive as a rural area with a growing population and a strong agricultural and ranching industry.