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NEW MEXICO
Land of Enchantment...
and FIRSTS, LARGEST, OLDEST, ONLY

What do the Balloon Fiesta, the Sandia Tram, the Atomic Bomb, and the Zuni language have in common?

They are the answers to what is the largest in the world, what is the longest in the world, what is the first in the world, and what is the only in the world? And they are all here in New Mexico.

Here are some other answers to those questions along with other facts about New Mexico.

The FIRST Wilderness area in the United States was the Gila Wilderness, designated in 1924.

The LARGEST National Forest is the Gila National Forest at 3.3 million acres

The OLDEST capital in the United States is Santa Fe (Palace of Governors).

The OLDEST city in the United States is also Santa Fe. (1610).

The ONLY circular capital building is the Roundhouse in Santa Fe, designed to resemble the Zia sun symbol (the NM state flag symbol).

The FIRST cowboys rode into the United States through New Mexico as part of the Spanish expedition in 1598.

The OLDEST “highway” in the United States is El Camino Real del Tierro Adentro which runs from Santa Fe to Veracruz, Mexico. (It is older than the Santa Fe Trail, older than the Mayflower landing at Plymouth Rock.)

The ONLY place in the world where a form of 16th century Spanish is spoken is in a few isolated villages in northern NM (Truchas, Chimayo, Coyote).

The LARGEST enchilada is made in Las Cruces every October (first weekend) for the “Whole Enchilada Fiesta.”

Santa Fe is the HIGHEST capital city in the United States (7,000 feet above sea level).

The FIRST apartment buildings in the United States were built a thousand years ago by the pre-Puebloan Indians in Chaco Canyon (some buildings were 5 stories high).

The LONGEST most-continually inhabited settlement in the United States was built by Pueblo people (both ACOMA in New Mexico and HOPI in Arizona claim this distinction, and Taos claims to be one of the oldest at 900 years).

The ONLY town in the United States to ever be invaded by a foreign army is Columbus by Mexico's Pacho Villa.

Las Vegas, New Mexico has the MOST buildings in historic districts on the National Registry of anywhere in the United States (900 buildings in 9 historic districts).

Sierra Grande is the LARGEST single mountain in the United States, measuring forty miles around the base and covering fifty square miles, with an altitude of 8,720 feet. (A dormant volcano, it's located about ten miles southeast of Folsom.)

A Texaco Station at the corner of Route 66 and First in Tucumcari is the ONLY service station to have operated continuously through the Route 66 era to the present.

The LARGEST natural cave "room" in the world is in Carlsbad Caverns, at over 1,500 feet long, 300 feet wide, and 300 feet high.

The LONGEST tram in the world is Sandia Tram, with cables climbing about 5,000 feet over their two and a half mile length.

Other facts and trivia about New Mexico

New Mexico joined the Union as the 47th state on January 6, 1912. Taking 60 years to accomplish, at times it looked more likely NM would be a state of Mexico or that NM and Arizona would be admitted as one state called Montezuma.

Our largest city, Albuquerque, is much older than the state of New Mexico. Two hundred years older, founded in 1706.

Smokey Bear was a black bear cub found during a forest fire. During the Capitan Gap fire in 1950 in Lincoln National Forest (southern NM), a firefighter spotted an orphaned bear cub up a tree and hanging on for dear life. The firefighters first named him Hot Foot Teddy (after the president Teddy Roosevelt). The cub went on to become the National Fire Safety symbol Smokey Bear. (And in 1963, in Smokey's honor, the New Mexican legislature chose the black bear to be the official state animal.)

A FOUR CORNER state (New Mexico, Arizona, Utah, Colorado), the only point in the United States where four states meet.

White Sands National Monument is a desert not of sand but of gleaming white gypsum crystals.

Fully one fourth of New Mexico is forested, and the state has 7 National Forests.

During the height of the so-called lawless era of the late 1800s when Lew Wallace served as Territorial Governor (1878 – 1881), he wrote the novel Ben Hur. First published in 1880, it was made into a movie in 1959 starring Charleton Heston.

Albuquerque was once part of the Confederacy.

Roswell was founded in 1869 when a professional gambler established a lone store on the cattle trail. (The city is now 5th largest in the state.)

Tens of thousands of bats live in the Carlsbad Caverns. The largest chamber in the Caverns is more than 10 football fields long and about 22 stories high.

The city Truth or Consequences used to be called Hot Springs, but in 1950 changed its name to the title of a popular radio and TV quiz program.

Ghosts are said to haunt the St. James Hotel in Cimarron, NM (its saloon, restaurant and 43 rooms were witness to 26 murders). Patrons to the hotel included Buffalo Bill Cody, Annie Oakley, Jesse James, Black Jack Ketchum and Wyatt Earp.

New Mexico has over 400 ghost towns. Some have been brought back to life, such as Madrid which is now a thriving artists colony.

Doc Holliday operated a dental office and a saloon and gambling hall in Las Vegas, New Mexico before moving on to Tombstone.

Standing on the crest of 8,182-foot Capulin Volcano in Union County, you can see five states: New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas, Colorado and Kansas.

More than 500 100-million-year-old dinosaur footprints have been indentified and preserved at Clayton Lake State Park.

Located in a collapsed lava tube, the Bandera Ice Cave's temperature never rises above freezing. At the bottom of the 75-foot-deep cave, the ice floor is twenty-feet thick, and believed to date back to 1100 BC.

Blue Hole, an 81-foot-deep natural artesian spring in Santa Rosa, is 4600 feet above sea level, making the bottom an equivalent of nearly 100-feet of depth in the ocean.

There are nineteen Pueblo groups in New Mexico, speaking four distinct languages.

Whitewater Canyon was a hideout for Butch Cassidy, Sundance, the Wild Bunch, and also was a sanctuary for Chiracahua warrior Geronimo.

On the same desert land where today's space age missiles are tested, ten-thousand-year-old arrowheads have been found. New Mexican history spans arrowheads to atoms, pictographs (paintings on stone) to Georgia O'Keefe fine art, horses to wagon trains to space ports, turquoise to gold to uranium, and multiple ethnic cultures (Spanish, Anglo, and multiple Native American). Few states can claim such a wide-ranging, distinctive past.

NEW MEXICO STATE SYMBOLS

  • STATE MOTTO: Everybody is Somebody in New Mexico
  • NICKNAME: Land of Enchantment
  • STATE SONG: “O Fair New Mexico” by Elizabeth Garrett
  • BILINGUAL SONG: “New Mexico...Mi Lindo Nuevo Mexico” by Pablo Mares
  • BALLAD: “The Land of Enchantment” by Michael Martin Murphey
  • SPANISH LANGUAGE SONG: “Asi Es Nuevo Mexico” by Amadeo Lucero
  • COWBOY SONG: “Under New Mexico Skies” by Syd Masters
  • POEM: “A Nuevo Mexico” by Luis Tafoya
  • BIRD: Roadrunner
  • BUTTERFLY: Sandia Hairstreak
  • TREE: Pinon Pine
  • FLOWER: Soaptree Yucca
  • MAMMAL: American Black Bear
  • INSECT: Tarantula Hawk Wasp
  • AMPHIBIAN: New Mexico Spadefoot
  • FISH: Rio Grande Cutthroat Trout
  • REPTILE: New Mexico Whiptail
  • DINOSAUR: Coelophysis
  • GRASS: Blue Grama
  • VEGETABLES:L Chile and Frijoles
  • GEM: Turquoise
  • COLORS: Red and Yellow
  • NECKWEAR: Bolo
  • NECKLACE: Native American Squash Blossom
  • COOKIE: Bizcochitto
  • AIRCRAFT: Hot Air Balloon
  • GUITAR: New Mexico Sunrise Guitar by Pimental Guitars
  • TRAIN: Cumbres & Toltec Railroad

And the State Question: Red or Green (the choice of your chile)

FACTS about our FLAG:

The yellow and red symbol colors are the colors of Spain. First brought to New Mexico by Spanish explorers in 1540. On New Mexico's flag we see a red sun with rays stretching out from it. There are four groups of rays with four rays in each group. This is an ancient sun symbol of a Native American people called the Zia. The Zia believed that the giver of all good gave them gifts in groups of four. These gifts are:
  1. The four directions - north, east, south and west.
  2. The four seasons - spring, summer, fall and winter.
  3. The day - sunrise, noon, evening and night.
  4. Life itself - childhood, youth, middle years and old age.
  5. All of these are bound by a circle of life and love, without a beginning or end.