Las Vegas Viewshed

SFCT Focal Area

Conserved Area

6 conservation easements, 19,480 acres

Description & History

Las Vegas, New Mexico was founded where the Gallinas River met the Santa Fe Trail in 1835, originally a Mexican land grant known as “Nuestra Senora de los Dolores de Las Vegas” or “Our Lady of Sorrows of the Meadows.” It became the first stop along the Santa Fe Trail after hundreds of miles of unsettled territory in Kansas and New Mexico. The town had a second birth when the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad came through in 1879, and a second town center, this time east of the Gallinas, was set up around the railroad station. Las Vegas became an exceptionally opulent trading post in its heyday, and became a melting pot of the different cultures traveling across the U.S., as well as a stunning collection of revivalist architecture of different places and periods. Miraculously, many of the buildings from the 1800s still survive today, and the small city of Las Vegas boasts some 900 registered historic buildings.

The present day trip along Interstate 25 is very similar to the path of the Santa Fe Trail, and is a classic representation of the old West, like an insect caught in amber. Ranches, homesteads and breathtaking mountain passes are discovered all along the way from Las Vegas to Santa Fe, often little changed from how they were more than 100 years ago. To preserve this landscape is to preserve history itself, and the ways of a bygone era.

Read the great article OVER THE MOUNTAIN Reflections on land conservation by SFCT Landowner Janet Betts, Redcloud Ranch on page 5 of our 2013 earthLINES