ASC Farmington Celebrates State of New Mexico Centennial (1912-2012)

Pre-statehood History

Rambouillet sheep in New Mexico
Photo courtesy of NMSU's Library Special Collections.

This is a story of an agrarian community steeped in Native American and Spanish cultures located in the northern New Mexico Territory. During the mid-nineteenth century, herds of varying sheep, goats, and cattle were grazed on open rangeland, at a time when Rambouillet sheep numbered 375,000 and longhorn cattle numbered 33,000. Over the next 50 years, the agrarian community would see significant change, such as opening of 'public domain' land, new orchards, the birth of San Juan County, the arrival of the Hereford and Shorthorn cattle in 1900, infusion of another culture, and the establishment of a land-grant university, cooperative extension service, and an agricultural science center.

1876 - Rio Arriba County

1891 San Juan County Fair Fruit Display
1891 San Juan County Fair 'Produce Display.'
Photo courtesy Daily Times - Farmington.

A section designated as 'public domain' opened the fertile Animas,
La Plata, and San Juan river valleys in NW New Mexico for settlement.

1878 San Juan County

Local orchardist experimented with fruit production. Peach tree plots were developed using peach seeds. First peach fruit was exhibited at the 1883 Fair.

1887 Birth of San Juan County

New Mexico Territorial Legislative Act resulted in the division of Rio Arriba County into two separate county governed entities.

1887 U.S. Congressional 'Hatch Act'

Provided federal annual funds of $15,000 for state land-grant colleges established under the Morrill Act which was signed by President Abraham Lincoln on July 2, 1862. The funds were used to establish agricultural experiment stations for the purpose of examining agricultural production, distribution, and marketing of products or methods that resulted in agricultural prosperity.

Navajos weaving rugs.
Navajos Weaving Rugs.
Photo courtesy of NMSU Cooperative Extension - Aztec.

1897 Two Grey Hills Trading Post

Colorado Plateau trading post opens as a general store. Today, only a few trading posts remain. Two Grey Hills still services the local Dine community selling food and wares, Navajo weaving, art work, and crafts.

1903 Boy's Corn Club member with bushel of corn
1903 The Boy's Corn Club.
Photo courtesy of Cooperative Extension - Aztec.

1903 The Boy's Corn Club

Dr. Seaman A. Knapp initiated Boy's Corn Clubs in the south, as 'Junior Farm Demonstration Work.' Thus each boy helped his community in corn production practices.

1903 San Juan County Exhibit at NM Territorial Fair
1903 SJC Exhibit at New Mexico Territorial Fair.
Photo courtesy of NMSU Cooperative Extension - Aztec.

1903 San Juan County's Fair Exhibit

The display at the New Mexico Territorial Fair included Navajo rugs, grains, fruit, and, a sign stating '200 Miles Overland'.

New Mexico Centennial (1912 - 2012)

1914 Shiprock Fair
1914 Shiprock Fair.
Photo courtesy of Daily Times - Farmington.

In the 20th Century the San Juan County agrarian community would witness the building of a railroad for the San Juan Basin, the passage of New Mexico statehood, the development of the 4-H Youth program and Cooperative Extension Service, the building of a major irrigation canal system, establishment of an Agricultural Experiment Station, and the development of the Navajo Agricultural Products Industry (NAPI).

1914 D&RG train station at Aztec replaced burned out 1905 depot.
1914 D&RG train station at Aztec
that replaced burned out 1905 depot.
Photo courtesy of Daily Times - Farmington.

1905 D&RGW Railroad Arrives

On 17 September 1905, the long awaited Denver & Rio Grande Western train
had arrived in San Juan Basin. Thereafter, road improvements increased truck
transport and the end of the rail service grew near. The last train departed the
San Juan Basin on 31 August 1968.

New Mexico Statehood 1912

New Mexico was admitted to the Union as the 47th state on 6 January 1912 when President William H. Taft signed the statehood proclamation. On 15 January, William C. McDonald was inaugurated as the first Governor of New Mexico.

Navajo student agricultural class at Shiprock High School in 1943.
Navajo agricultural class at Shiprock H.S. - 1943.
Photo courtesy of Daily Times - Farmington.

1912 New Mexico 4-H Organized

The youth program would utilize agriculture as a tool to each life-skills using
'Head, Heart, Health, and Hands.'

1914 Smith-Lever Act

The Smith-Lever Act of 8 May 1914 provided initial federal funds for the establishment of agricultural extension programs, to disseminate research results from land grant colleges and their agricultural experiment stations. The outreach program is know as Cooperative Extension.

Intake Tower at Navajo Dam
Intake Tower at Navajo Dam.
Photo courtesy of NMSU
Cooperative Extension - Aztec.

1956 Colorado River Storage Act (CRSA)

CRSA would bring U.S. Bureau of Reclamation
projects, such as diversion dams, irrigation
systems, and canals across San Juan County.

1969 Photograph of NMSU's Agricultural Experiment Station Aerial
NMSU's Agricultural Experiment Station - 1969.
Photo courtesy of NMSU's ASC Farmington.

1966 Agricultural Experiment Station at Farmington

New Mexico State University established the Agricultural Experiment Station at Farmington in 1966, to provide agricultural solutions for a semi-arid environment.


Navajo Indian Irrigation Project delivered pressurized irrigation water to its first 10,000 acre block for Navajo Agricultural Products Industry crops.

2012 Our Legacy Lives On

After 150 years of San Juan Basin agrarian community accomplishments, consumers can
still visit a Trading Post, shop at a small or large acreage farm store, and purchase
homegrown products at Farmers' Markets in Shiprock, Farmington, Aztec, and Bloomfield.

Thank you to all project contributors.

2012 New Mexico Centennial Reading List