How Did El Paso’s Closest New Mexico Neighbors Get Such Odd Names?
El Paso's northern neighbors have some interesting names, here's how they got them.
I recently posted an article explaining the origins of some weird Texas city names. Did you know that Kermit was NOT named after the frog and Wink has nothing to do with "winking"? Read more here.
New Mexico has its share of odd names too and here are the stories behind some of the ones closest to us here in El Chuco.
Sticking to within a couple of hundred miles of El Paso, here are some of the stories ...
- Old Mesilla - Search after search revealed a ton of interesting history about the place but no info on the name other than its translation - "Little Tableland."
- Las Cruces - The most common story is that wooden crosses were erected to mark the graves of soldiers, travelers, settlers, etc who had died in that area. Translation = The Crosses.
- Orogrande - Originally named Jarilla Junction, it became Orogrande in 1905 after a huge gold nugget was discovered. (Oro = gold, Grande = big or large)
- Alamogordo - An early founder named it after a huge Cottonwood grove he'd seen near the Pecos river. Alamogordo means "Fat Cottonwood".
- Silver City - This one was originally known as La Ciénaga de San Vicente. Thanks to the discovery of silver, the town exploded and was renamed "Silver City" in 1870.
- Truth Or Consequences - Yep, that's its name. In 1950, "Hot Springs" became "Truth or Consequences" after the game show of the same name's host offered to film an episode of T or C in the first city to become the shows namesake.
- Ruidoso - Originally named Rio Ruidoso, the name stems from the river that flows through the area and could be heard splashing over rocks. "Ruido" means "noisy".
- La Union - Founded by 2 Indian pueblos who found a spot far enough away from the Rio Grande to avoid flooding and settled the area together, "united".
- Hatch - The home of the worlds greatest chile's was named after Edward Hatch, a famous Indian fighter.
- Cloudcroft - Named because the area, thanks to its altitude, was almost always blanketed in clouds.
Let's finish this up with two cities a bit farther away from El Paso. One is the largest city in New Mexico and the other is the smallest.
- Albuquerque - NM's largest city was named named for the duke of Alburquerque, (a town in Spain), who was ... at the time ... the viceroy of "New Spain".
- Ohkay Owingeh - Coming in at a whopping 16 acres in total size, this one was named after an Indian pueblo, members of which still occupy it.