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Las Vegas

An 1829 military report referred to the area as Begas de las Gallinas, and sometimes residents referred to the area as simply Las Gallinas, but the name that has survived is Las Vegas. The Settlement became an important stop on the Santa Fe Trail and later on the AT&SF Rail Road. With the arrival of the Rail Road in 1879, Las Vegas quickly evolved into not one town but three: West Las Vegas, or Old Town, located W of the Rio Gallinas; East Las Vegas, engendered by the Rail Road, E of the river; and Upper Town, a suburb that peaked in 1870 with 796 residents and then declined.

In 1888 Las Vegas was incorporated as a city and in 1893 New Mexico Highlands University was established. A county courthouse was built in Las Vegas in 1912. Though cultural differences had historically created strong rivalries between the new and predominantly Anglo East Las Vegas and the older and predominantly Hispano West Las Vegas, they once had separate post offices, the distinction between the two cultures and architectural styles survives today with a combination of indigenous adobe architecture and a variety of Victorian architecture. Highlands University continues to be a viable educational institution and tourists are drawn to the town by its historic and cultural legacy. Traditionally a community based on agriculture, farming and ranching remain important components of the local economy.

See also:

Julyan, Robert. Place Names of New Mexico 2nd ed., University of New Mexico Press, 1998.

Historical Gazetteer of US-New Mexico


Latitude: 3535
Longitude: 10513