Esta Es Nuestra Comunidad. This is Our Community.
It Is At This Location.
Bienvenido a nuestra casa. Welcome to our home.
Our Tularosa story is told, explained, revealed, honored & remembered here. The Historical Society
is digitizing our cultural and the traditional values of our community. This is an ongoing effort to capture
& share this knowledge so that it's preserved & available to share with our guests and our families.
We have categorized our history on this page site with separate pull down listings.
Spend some time to explore & discover our community.
We will be frequently adding our additional community history at this place.
A Historical Summary Of The Development Of Our Community
The town of Tularosa was settled in 1862 by Mexican settlers originating from Mesilla and other towns along the Rio Grande, who became tired of the annual floods. They traveled East into the Tularosa Valley because of the abundance
of water flowing from the Rio Tularosa and it was very suitable to their farming methods.
Mr. Cesario Duran led the group of about 100 settlers and became the first Alcalde (Mayor). The town was mapped
in 1862 totaling 49 blocks with four lots in each block. With all this land available much farming was done in the town and the acequias (irrigation canals) were laid out to bring water to each block. Then as now it was a green, rural town.
The first major challenge the Mexican settlers faced was from Apache attacks and raids. As a result of these attacks, many of the early houses were fortified with heavy walls and "rifle hole" fenestration.
The attacks continued until 1868 when the Mexican townspeople decided they had had enough and would make a stand against the Apache. They promised San Francisco de Paula, the Patron Saint of Tularosa, a church if they were victorious in their battle. The Battle of Round Mountain took place on April 17, 1868 and the Tularosans with assistance of the US Calvary, emerged alive. The construction of their promised church commenced and it was completed in 1869.
The town was made up primarily of Mexican Americans and immigrants who began located to this area after the Civil War. An Irishman named Patrick Coghlan was among those who migrated. Patrick developed substantial businesses consisting of a store, saloon, and wagon yard hotel in a large four-sided adobe building at the corner of 4th and Fresno. Patrick began purchasing all the available and unused land in the town. In 1885 when the plat map was prepared, Coghlan owned 14 lots which were a quarter-block in size. Additionally Patrick owned the large Three Rivers Ranch located north of Tularosa.
Until about 1890 Tularosa was an idyllic spot. The land was rich and brought significant crops and the citizens prospered peacefully. The seeds of dissent has been sown though with the arrival of the Texas cattlemen.
In 1880, the cattlemen were impressed with the lush Tularosa Valley and it remained prosperous until the drought
Among this group of increasingly powerful ranchers was Oliver M. Lee who became one of the wealthiest men in the United States. The new economic pressure brought by the drought on top of the cultural conflicts led to clashes between the old and new people in the Tularosa region.
The most classic of these was between A.J. Fountain and A.B. Fall. Both men were lawyers involved in politics; Fountain represented the Mexican people & small land owners and Fall represented the ranchers.
The small ranchers of the Tularosa Basin formed the South-Eastern New Mexico Livestock Association as a protection against the crimes & harassment of the ranchers. A.J. Fountain was their able attorney and he was successful
in representing many of the cases he took to court and was damaging the ranchers' position. In 1895, A.J. Fountain
was ambushed & killed.
Because of the strong cry for justice and the shady politics, Otero County was formed out of the eastern part of Dona Ana County to avoid investigation and prosecution of the crime.
A.B. Fall went on to be owner of the Three Rivers Ranch, U.S. Senator from New Mexico, and Secretary of the Interior.
Among those involved in ranching at this time and in some of the conflicts was Eugene Manlove Rhodes. He was a cowboy for many years and owned his own ranch near La Luz. In 1906, Rhodes left the Tularosa Valley travelling East to New York where he became one of the best known and most knowledgeable western fiction writers. In his many fiction writings, he referred to Tularosa as "Oasis."
In 1897, the announcement came that the railroad was coming through the Tularosa region just immediately to the West. The El Paso and Northeastern railroad (EP&NW) tracks arrived in 1899, extending north to the coal fields near Capitan and to Carrizozo for the mine business in White Oaks.
With the railroad arrival, new goods and materials became more generally available, but only the ranchers and merchants directly benefited. By World War I, Tularosa had calmed down from the wild frontier town to the peaceful town it is now today. The old excitement emerged briefly in 1945 with the success of the Trinity Project and the establishment of White Sands Proving Grounds.
Tularosa remains a rural farming town where people still keep animals & small farms in their yards fed by water running through the acequias. Tularosa has come full circle from peaceful farming town, to the last of the frontier towns, to a peaceful farming town.