Mesilla, New Mexico

The Basilica of San Albino in Mesilla
The Basilica of San Albino

At the southern end of El Camino Real in New Mexico, the Mesilla area was settled early in the days of the Spanish occupation of the New World. Mesilla Plaza is now a Registered National Historical Landmark.

The Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo set the Mexican-American border just south of the village of Doña Ana (which is just north of present-day Las Cruces). Some of the folks there didn't want to become US citizens so they moved south of the border and settled in Mesilla. The local Apaches were very active at the time and forced the US Army to establish Fort Fillmore in the Mesilla Valley. That led to the US claiming the entire Mesilla Valley region and that conflicted with Mexican claims for the same strip of land. The whole was resolved in 1853 with the completion of the Gadsden Purchase, which was actually pushed through Congress by railroad interests who wanted to construct a southern transcontinental railroad through the valleys in the area south of the major mountains.

In 1861-1862, Mesilla was the capital of the Confederate Territory of Arizona. Then it was captured by the Volunteers of the California Column and became the headquarters of the Military District of Arizona until 1864. For 20 years Mesilla was known for its cantinas and regular festivals, attracting such notables of the time as Billy the Kid, Pancho Villa and Pat Garrett. The Butterfield Stagecoach and southern extension of the Santa Fe Trail (connecting Santa Fe with Chihuahua via El Camino Real) crossed each other here.

In 1881, the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad proposed a route through the Gadsden Purchase to Arizona and California. Mesilla was seen as the most likely place for a local rail station but the residents demanded too much money for the railroad rights-of-way. A large landowner across the river in Las Cruces stepped up and offered the railroad a free route across his land. Mesilla hasn't grown much since and Las Cruces is now the second largest city in the state...

Fast Facts about Mesilla, New Mexico
Mesilla, Dona Ana County, NM 88046
Latitude: 32.272776°N
Longitude: 106.800965°W
Incorporated: 1848
Elevation: 3,881 '

High School or Higher: 80.0%
Bachelor's Degree or Higher: 43.7%
Graduate or Professional Degree: 22.1%
Cost of Living Index for Mesilla: 87.6

2014 Estimates:
Median Household Income: $50,000
Median Home Value: $314,700
Median Resident Age: 49.8 Years
Major Industries:
Educational Services, Health Care, Government, Lodging & Food Services, Social Services, Retail Trade, Agriculture
Unemployed (August 2014): 6.5%
Population Demographics: 2010
Total Population 2,196
Males 1,070
Females 1,126
Population by Age
Under 18 355
18 & over 1,841
20-24 131
25-34 198
35-49 377
50-64 566
65 & over 525
Population by Ethnicity
Hispanic or Latino 1,058
Non Hispanic or Latino 1,138
Population by Race
White 2,013
African-American 13
Asian 14
Native American 35
Hawaiian or Pacific Islander 1
Other 61
Two or more 59