Mesilla, New Mexico
Early History
Founding of Mesilla
Gadsden Purchase
Civil War Period
Lively Social Center
The Rio Grande
The Railroad
Political History
The Plaza
A Lively Social Center

Following the Civil War, Mesilla resumed its role as the commercial and transportation center for the region. It outfitted the profitable mining activities and ranching operations that had become important industries in the territory. An even greater number of passengers and freighters made the town a vital link in the important and dangerous transportation network of the west. 

Mesilla was a lively social center in the 1880s. People came from as far as the City of Chihuahua and Tucson to attend bailes (dances), bullfights, cockfights and theatrical presentations. As a social center, the town attracted more than its share of violence. It was not uncommon to see differences settled in the streets with guns. Outlaws such as Dutch Hubert, Nicolas Provencio and Billy the Kid frequented many of the bars and dances in town. It was at the jail and courthouse on the southeast corner of the plaza that Billy the Kid was tried and sentenced to hang in 1881. The town of Mesilla was as wild as the West ever was. 

In 1881, the railroad bypassed Mesilla in favor of Las Cruces, four miles to the northeast. With this event, the county seat was moved to Las Cruces and Mesilla's importance was soon dimmed by its neighbor. As a result, Mesilla has experienced little growth until recently, and so, has retained much of its original nineteenth century character. 

Old San Albino Church, Mesilla New Mexico

Old San Albino Church

Billy the Kid

Billy the Kid

The 1950s and 1960s saw new building growth in more modern styles. Citizens of Mesilla, wanting to retain the character of the original town, enacted a historic zoning ordinance to promote the preservation of this lovely old town. Because of this timely action, the town retains the physical proportions and scale that it had a hundred years ago. Stabilization, restoration and rehabilitation projects undertaken by individual property owners and businesses have, for the most part, retained the architectural character of the structures

Mesilla, New Mexico, USA
Mesilla, New Mexico

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