Interesting Facts About New Mexico

By | August 22, 2022

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Balloon festival, landscape view and sunset. (Busakorn Pongparnit/Getty Images)

The Oldest Community In The United States

Before the land's colonization by Spaniards in the late 1590s, the region of what is now New Mexico was populated by many indigenous peoples, primarily the Navajo, Apache, and Pueblo. It's hard to pinpoint just when the land was settled by Native Americans, but the state is home to some of the oldest identifiable settlements in North America. In fact, the Taos Pueblo settlement is thought to be the longest-inhabited settlement in the United States, with some estimations marking the community as 1,000 years old. Today, the location is a UNESCO World Heritage site, thanks to it's pre-Colombian authenticity, and has "successfully [retained] most of its traditional forms up to the present day."

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Trinity Site explosion, 0.016 second after explosion, July 16, 1945. (Berlyn Brixner/Los Alamos National Laboratory/Wikimedia Commons)

The First Atomic Bomb

New Mexico is also home to one of the most pivotal events in human history, as the first atomic bomb was set off at what is now the White Sands Missile Range on July 16, 1945. Los Alamos was selected as the secret base for the development of atomic weapons by General Leslie Groves and Manhattan Project director Dr. J. Robert Oppenheimer due to the latter's lifelong love of the New Mexico countryside and their desire for isolation in an effort to create a "bubble of secrecy" in which they could develop the first weapon of mass destruction. Today, Los Alamos Laboratories continues to do research in nuclear energy as well as space travel and supercomputers.