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Highlights of New Mexico’s 100 years of statehood

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By Jay Miller

What were the most important events of New Mexico’s first 100 years of statehood?
Mine appear below.
The State Department of Cultural Affairs has a list, available in poster form.
The New Mexico Blue Book has a list available from the Secretary of State’s Office.
1912 - Any such list must beginning with Jan. 6 when President William Howard Taft signed the statehood proclamation and Gov. William C. McDonald, a Democrat, is elected to office.
1916 - Pancho Villa_s troops raid Columbus, NM. A massive Punative Expedition into Mexico, headed by Gen. Black Jack Pershing, ensued. It involved the first tactical use of aircraft. A state park museum in Columbus tells a good story.
1926 - Route 66, the much celebrated Mother Road, from Chicago to L.A., provides many with their first view of New Mexico and gave tourism a big boost..
1928 - Oil discovered near Hobbs. The Spanish had found insufficient gold, silver and copper to make New Mexico worth much to them but oil soon became New Mexico’s biggest money maker.
1930 - Dr. Robert Goddard is convinced by Charles Lindbergh to move his rocket testing to the vast expanses of New Mexico. His many successful experiments earn him to title _father of rocketry.
1940 - Milton “Doc” Noss claims to have discovered a huge storehouse of gold at Victorio Peak, very near what is now Spaceport America. The Army later closed the area for Alamogordo Bombing Range. Noss never could retrieve the gold he claimed but stories have persisted of government excavation of the hill. It became a topic of the Watergate hearings.
1941 - New Mexico National Guard activated and shipped to the Philippines.
1942 - 1800 New Mexico Guard troops were surrendered on Bataan Peninsula. Half died on Death March, Hell Ships and Japanese work camps.
1943 - Manhattan Project locates in Los Alamos on secret mission.
1944 - Navajo Code Talkers distinguish themselves ffor development of unbreakable code.
1945 - Over 100 Nazi scientists and engineers, along with V-2 rocket parts, shipped to Alamogordo Bombing Range, which became White Sands Missile Range. White Sands ranchers, removed from their property in 1942, will remain permanently disposed of their land. World’s first nuclear device exploded at Trinity Site.
1946 - U.S. Rep. Georgia Lusk, D-Carlsbad, first woman elected to statewide office. Members of  Congress ran at large.
1947 - Roswell Army Air Force Base issues news release claiming it captured a flying disk.
1950 - Smokey Bear rescued from forest fire in Lincoln County. Becomes national symbol.
1960 - Interstate highway system begins in New Mexico. Brings many more tourists.
1966 - New Mexico’s fourth capital building dedicated. Nicknamed “The Roundhouse.”
1973 - Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta inaugurated in a dirt parking lot. Has grown into the world’s largest and most photographed ballooning event.
1974 - Very Large Array telescope system begun on St. Augustine Plains, near Socorro.
1988 - Waste Isolation Pilot Plant opened near Carlsbad to handle low-level transuranic waste. Safety record outstanding.
2005 - Spaceport America groundbreaking as a joint project of the state of New Mexico and Virgin Galactic The project fulfills longtime dreams of many in the Las Cruces business and educational community.
2010 - Susana Martinez elected New Mexico’s first woman governor and the first female, Hispanic governor in the nation.
Jay Miller
Insidethecapitol.com