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Area History


This town has the ultimate cowboys and Indians story. Before it was settled by fur trappers and prospectors, the area that became New Mexico was all a vast Indian community. The most famous residents during those days were the Apache and Comanche. These Indians would battle each other over the sacred land.

At the beginning of the 19th century, explorers and fur trappers started making their way to the western coast, traveling through these Indian areas. Gold was discovered in the early part of the 1840's and a large influx of people began to trek across the country to these areas. It would soon become apparent (through what we call Manifest Destiny) that the United States wanted to claim some of these lands. When Texas was annexed into the United States in 1845, Mexico was furious. They didn't recognize the annexation and planned to take the land back.

The Mexican American war only lasted from 1846-1848, but was a very significant period in American history. It gave us some of our best tales (including one about a group of guys guarding a little building called the Alamo) and gave us the New Mexico territory.

Established in 1850, the New Mexico territory became the new frontier for American's. There was another influx of people and it seemed the land of possibilities. Soon small mining towns were beginning to sprout up all through the territory, one of these was River City.

When gold was discovered in the early 1870's, River City was established to house the miners in the area. River City was a true Western "rough and tough" town. It had plenty of saloons and gambling house to quench any cowboy's needs. By the turn of the century the town had swelled up to nearly 3,000 inhabitants.

The gold dried out but its effects did not last. When the mining industry stopped after the turn of the century, homesteaders were soon filling the area. The Homstead Act of 1862 opened up acres and acres of land for people to settle in the West. This caused a series of conflicts in some establishments (such as the Johnson County War in Wyoming), while others (such as River City) thrived from the new inhabitants.

The old mining cabins were turned into homes and towns began to form around a new form of commerce, tourism. It became apparent in the early 20th century that there was big money to be made in tourism. The town, now called Red River, stayed in that mind set, and now tourism is the main economic industry.

Red River's rich historical background, plus its awe inspiring natural beauty, make it a perfect place for vacationers. And the impact of the Western as a film genre also helps keep the people coming to Red River. If you want to step back into the time of the cowboys, this is a great place to visit!