Socorro, New Mexico
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Socorro (, '' sə-KOR-oh'') is a city in Socorro County in the
U.S. state In the United States The United States of America (U.S.A. or USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US) or America, is a country Continental United States, primarily located in North America. It consists of 50 U.S. state ...
of
New Mexico ) , population_demonym = New Mexican ( es, Neomexicano, Neomejicano, Nuevo Mexicano) , seat = Santa Fe , LargestCity = Albuquerque , LargestMetro = Greater Albuquerque , OfficialLang = None , Languages = English English usually refer ...

New Mexico
. It is in the
Rio Grande Valley In Texas Texas (, ) is a state in the South Central United States, South Central region of the United States. It is the second largest U.S. state by both List of U.S. states and territories by area, area (after Alaska) and List of U.S. st ...
at an elevation of . In 2010 the population was 9,051. It is the
county seat A county seat is an administrative centerAn administrative centre is a seat of regional administration or local government, or a county town, or the place where the central administration of a Township, commune is located. In countries with Fre ...
of Socorro County. Socorro is located south of Albuquerque and north of Las Cruces.


History


Founding

In June 1598,
Juan de Oñate Juan de Oñate y Salazar (; 1550–1626) was a Spanish Spanish may refer to: * Items from or related to Spain: **Spaniards, a nation and ethnic group indigenous to Spain **Spanish language **Spanish cuisine Other places * Spanish, Ontario, Ca ...
led a group of Spanish settlers through the
Jornada del Muerto The name Jornada del Muerto translates from Spanish as "Single Day's Journey of the Dead Man" or even "Route of the Dead Man, though the modern literal translation is closer to "The Working Day of the Dead". It was the name given by the Spanish ...
, an inhospitable patch of desert that ends just south of the present-day city of Socorro. As the Spaniards emerged from the desert, Piro Indians of the
pueblo In the Southwestern United States The Southwestern United States, also known as the American Southwest or simply the Southwest, is a geographic and cultural list of regions of the United States, region of the United States that generally inc ...

pueblo
of Teypana gave them food and water. Therefore, the Spaniards renamed this pueblo Socorro, which means "help" or "aid". Later, the name "Socorro" would be applied to the nearby Piro pueblo of Pilabó. Nuestra Señora de Perpetuo Socorro, the first
Catholic The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the largest Christian church, with 1.3 billion baptised Baptism (from the Greek language, Greek noun βάπτισμα ''báptisma'') is a Christians, Christian ...

Catholic
mission in the area, was probably established c. 1626. Fray Agustín de Vetancurt would later write that around 600 people lived in the area during this period. Mines in the Socorro mountains were opened by 1626. During the
Pueblo Revolt The Pueblo Revolt of 1680, also known as Popé's Rebellion or Popay's Rebellion, was an uprising of most of the indigenous Pueblo people The Puebloans or Pueblo peoples, are Native Americans in the Southwestern United States who share common ...
of 1680, Spanish refugees stopped in the pueblo of Socorro. A number of Piro Indians followed the Spaniards as they left the province to go south to safety. With no protection of Spanish troops, Socorro was destroyed and the remaining Piro were killed by the
Apache The Apache () are a group of culturally related Native American Native Americans may refer to: Ethnic groups * Indigenous peoples of the Americas, the pre-Columbian peoples of North and South America and their descendants * Native Americans ...

Apache
and other tribes. The Spanish did not initially resettle Socorro when they re-conquered
New Mexico ) , population_demonym = New Mexican ( es, Neomexicano, Neomejicano, Nuevo Mexicano) , seat = Santa Fe , LargestCity = Albuquerque , LargestMetro = Greater Albuquerque , OfficialLang = None , Languages = English English usually refer ...

New Mexico
. Other than
El Paso El Paso (; "the pass") is a city in and the county seat A county seat is an administrative centerAn administrative centre is a seat of regional administration or local government, or a county town, or the place where the central administrat ...

El Paso
, there were no Spanish settlements south of Sabinal (which is approximately north of Socorro) until the 1800s. In 1800, governor Fernando Chacon gave the order to resettle Socorro and other villages in the area. However, Socorro was not resettled until about 1815. In 1817, 70 Belen residents petitioned the crown for land in Socorro. The 1833 Socorro census lists over 400 residents, with a total of 1,774 people living within the vicinity of the village. The mission of San Miguel de Socorro was established soon after Socorro was resettled. The church was built on the ruins of the old Nuestra Señora de Socorro.


Territorial period

In August 1846, during the
Mexican–American War The Mexican–American War, also known in the United States as the Mexican War and in Mexico as the (''U.S. intervention in Mexico''), was an armed conflict between the United States and Second Federal Republic of Mexico, Mexico from 1846 ...

Mexican–American War
, New Mexico was occupied by the American Army. In
Las Vegas, New Mexico Las Vegas is a city in and the county seat A county seat is an administrative centerAn administrative centre is a seat of regional administration or local government, or a county town, or the place where the central administration of a Townsh ...
, Colonel
Stephen W. Kearny
Stephen W. Kearny
proclaimed New Mexico's independence from Mexico. On their way to begin their assault on Mexico, American troops stopped in Socorro. A British officer, Lt.
George Ruxton George Frederick Ruxton (24 July 1821 – 29 August 1848) was a British explorer and Travel literature, travel writer. He was a lieutenant in the British Army, received a medal for gallantry from Queen Isabella II of Spain, was a hunter and explo ...
, commented that these soldiers were "unwashed and unshaven, were ragged and dirty, without uniforms..." and were lacking in discipline. In September 1850, New Mexico became a territory of the United States. At the time, New Mexico encompassed what is now the states of New Mexico and
Arizona Arizona ( ; nv, Hoozdo Hahoodzo ; ood, Alĭ ṣonak) is a U.S. state, state in the Southwestern United States, Southwestern region of the United States. It is also usually considered part of the Mountain States, Mountain states. It is th ...

Arizona
. In 1850, the population of Socorro was only 543 people. This included 100 American soldiers who were soon moved to Valverde. The first military post built near Socorro was
Fort ConradFort Conrad was a U.S. Army fort established in Socorro County, New Mexico, Socorro County, New Mexico Territory in 1851. Fort Conrad was located near modern Tiffany, New Mexico. It was on the west side of the Rio Grande. Because of its location, ...
, south of the town. Built in August 1851, the fort was badly constructed and was abandoned for
Fort Craig Fort Craig was a U.S. Army The United States Army (USA) is the land Land is the solid surface of Earth that is not permanently submerged in water. Most but not all land is situated at elevations above sea level (variable over geologic ...
, located a few miles away. Fort Craig was first occupied on March 31, 1854. The New Mexico School of Mines (now the
New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology The New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology (New Mexico Tech and formerly New Mexico School of Mines) is a public university in Socorro, New Mexico. It offers over 30 bachelor of science degrees in technology, the sciences, engineering, man ...
) was founded in Socorro in 1889. On April 24, 1964, Lonnie Zamora, a local policeman, claimed to have observed a flying saucer and two little beings. Zamora's claim is known as the
Lonnie Zamora incident The Lonnie Zamora incident was an alleged UFO sighting that occurred on April 24, 1964 near Socorro, New Mexico when Socorro police officer Lonnie Zamora claimed he saw two people beside a shiny object that later rose into the air accompanied b ...
.


Geography and geology

Socorro is located south of Albuquerque, at an average elevation of . The town lies adjacent to the
Rio Grande The Rio Grande ( and ), known in Mexico as the Río Bravo del Norte and as the Río Bravo, is one of the principal river A river is a natural flowing watercourse, usually freshwater, flowing towards an ocean, sea, lake or another r ...

Rio Grande
in a landscape dominated by the Rio Grande rift and numerous extinct volcanoes. The immediate region encompasses approximately of vertical relief between the Rio Grande and the
Magdalena Mountains The Magdalena Mountains are a regionally high, mountain range in Socorro County, New Mexico, Socorro County, in west-central New Mexico in the southwestern United States. The highest point in the range is South Baldy (New Mexico), South Baldy, at ...
. Notable nearby locales include the
Cibola National Forest The Cibola National Forest (pronounced SEE-bo-lah) is a 1,633,783 acre (6,611.7 km2) United States National Forest in New Mexico, USA. The name Cibola is thought to be the original Zuni people, Zuni Indian name for their pueblos or tribal lands. Th ...
, the Bureau of Land Management Quebradas Scenic Backcountry Byway, and the
Bosque del Apache The Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge ( ) is located in southern New Mexico. It was founded in 1939 and is administered by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. It is a favorite spot to watch t ...
and Sevilleta National Wildlife Refuges. According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of , of which , or 0.21%, is water.


Climate

Socorro has a semi-arid climate#Cold semi-arid climates, cold semi-arid climate (''BSk''). Summers are hot, reaching on an average of 82 days annually. Winters are mild, but nights are cold with 126 days falling to or below freezing per year. The record high temperature of was recorded on June 26, 1994, while the record low of was recorded on December 21, 1909. Socorro averages of annual precipitation, with a peak of in July.


Demographics

As of the census of 2000, there were 8,877 people, 3,415 households, and 2,151 families residing in the city. The population density was 615.8 people per square mile (237.9/km). There were 3,940 housing units at an average density of 273.3 per square mile (105.6/km). The racial makeup of the city was 66.16% White (U.S. Census), White, 0.74% African American (U.S. Census), African American, 2.77% Native American (U.S. Census), Native American, 2.24% Asian (U.S. Census), Asian, 0.06% Pacific Islander (U.S. Census), Pacific Islander, 23.24% from Race (United States Census), other races, and 4.79% from two or more races. Hispanic (U.S. Census), Hispanic or Latino (U.S. Census), Latino of any race were 54.50% of the population. There were 3,415 households, out of which 31.2% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 43.5% were Marriage, married couples living together, 14.4% had a female householder with no husband present, and 37.0% were non-families. 29.3% of all households were made up of individuals, and 8.3% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.44 and the average family size was 3.02. In the City of Socorro 25.4% of the total population was under the age of 18, 16.9% from 18 to 24, 25.7% from 25 to 44, 20.4% from 45 to 64, and 11.6% were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 31 years. For every 100 females, there were 106.6 males. The median income for a household in the city was $22,530, and the median income for a family was $33,013. Males had a median income of $31,517 versus $23,071 for females. The per capita income for the city was $13,250. About 24.1% of families and 32.3% of the population were below the poverty line, including 44.4% of those under age 18 and 23.6% of those age 65 or over. The languages spoken at home were 62.41% English, 35.64% Spanish, 0.90% Chinese, 0.76% German, and 0.36% Navajo.


Economy

Major employers in Socorro include the
New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology The New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology (New Mexico Tech and formerly New Mexico School of Mines) is a public university in Socorro, New Mexico. It offers over 30 bachelor of science degrees in technology, the sciences, engineering, man ...
(NM Tech), the Bureau of Land Management, Socorro General Hospital, the National Radio Astronomy Observatory, municipal and county governments, Socorro Consolidated Schools. A large number of small businesses are represented by th
Socorro County Chamber of Commerce


Tourism


Golf

The Elfego Baca Golf Shoot is named after a former mayor of Socorro who survived a gun battle near what is now Reserve, New Mexico, involving over 4,000 bullets that were fired over the course of 36 hours. The golf shoot begins by teeing off from Socorro Peak, also known as M Mountain, at an altitude of , golfers proceed down the side of the mountain some 2,550 vertical feet to the one hole almost three miles (5 km) away. Surviving rattlesnakes, gnats, cacti, treacherous terrain and the New Mexican sun and heat, golfers have a chance at winning the title to what is considered one of the two most difficult golf courses in the world.


Points of interest

* San Miguel de Socorro – San Miguel Mission * National Radio Astronomy Observatory Very Large Array * Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge * Sevilleta National Wildlife Refuge * Trinity (nuclear test) site, White Sands Missile Range * Owl Bar and Cafe


Education

Socorro Consolidated School District has approx. 2,000 students and 285 staff. Socorro has one public High school (North America), high school, Socorro High School (Socorro, New Mexico), Socorro High School. The town is the location of the
New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology The New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology (New Mexico Tech and formerly New Mexico School of Mines) is a public university in Socorro, New Mexico. It offers over 30 bachelor of science degrees in technology, the sciences, engineering, man ...
, which is a state-funded research- and teaching-oriented university. New Mexico Tech has approximately 1,500 undergraduate students, 500 graduate students, and 150 academic staff. Currently, the Summer Science Program in Astrophysics is hosted at New Mexico Tech.


Infrastructure


Airport

The Socorro airport, located on the southern edge of the city, received scheduled airline service by Continental Airlines in the early 1950s. A Douglas DC-3 aircraft provided a daily northbound flight to Albuquerque (that went on to Denver after several stops) and a southbound flight to El Paso with stops at Truth or Consequences and Las Cruces. Zia Airlines, a small commuter airline, also made on-demand flag stops at the Socorro airport on their flights between Albuquerque and Las Cruces in the mid 1970s. The airport remains in use as a general aviation facility with several based aircraft.


In popular culture

Socorro was among the locations in the movie ''Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore'' (1974), though in a somewhat derogatory sense, as Ellen Burstyn's character decides to leave the town for a new beginning elsewhere. The aftermath scene of Burstyn's character's husband's fatal traffic accident at the beginning of the film, although implied as being in Socorro, was actually filmed in Tucson, Arizona, Tucson. The Roger Corman movie ''Gas-s-s-s'' (1971) was filmed in and around Socorro, including a scene using the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology, New Mexico Tech golf carts. Actress Jodie Foster stayed in Socorro while filming the movie ''Contact (1997 American film), Contact'' (1997) at the Very Large Array fifty miles west of the city. Based on the map that was faxed to Jodie Foster's character (Dr. Eleanor Arroway) in the film, the Socorro airport was also the location of meeting between Dr. Arroway and S.R. Hadden. ''12 Strong'' (2018) had several scenes recorded in Socorro, NM due to how similar the terrain was to Afghanistan. Filming specifically took place on M Mountain for several days, among the Energetic Materials Research and Testing Center's bomb range. 50 extras from Socorro and surrounding areas were used in several scenes in the film. Originally titled "Horse Soldiers", filming also took place in White Sands National Monument, and Fort Bliss. During this time, production crew and actors were seen in Socorro as they mostly stayed in local hotels, and ate out at local restaurants. Chris Hemsworth was spotted at the Socorro Springs restaurant and
New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology The New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology (New Mexico Tech and formerly New Mexico School of Mines) is a public university in Socorro, New Mexico. It offers over 30 bachelor of science degrees in technology, the sciences, engineering, man ...
's gym.


Notable people

* Elfego Baca (1865–1945), lawman, lawyer, and politician * Jeff Bhasker, record producer and musician * Conrad Hilton (1887–1979), founder of the Hilton Hotels chain * Robert Fortune Sanchez (1938–2012), Roman Catholic archbishop *Holm O. Bursum (1867-1953)


References


Bibliography

* ''Socorro "Saucer" in a Pentagon Pantry'', Ray Stanford, author. Blueapple Books, 1976. * ''X Descending'', Christian Lambright, author. X Desk Publishing, 2012. pp. 269–274. * ''The UFO Book: Encyclopedia of the Extraterrestrial'', Jerome Clark, author. Visible Ink Press, 1998. pp. 545–558.


External links

* {{Authority control Socorro, New Mexico, Cities in Socorro County, New Mexico Cities in New Mexico County seats in New Mexico