Eldorado History

Ever wonder why most of our houses face south? It’s because Eldorado was started as a purely solar neighborhood during the energy crisis in the 1970s. Today, Eldorado is not only one of the largest unincorporated communities in New Mexico, it’s also one of the West’s largest solar communities.

Here are some other tidbits and trivia about our area:

  • As you drive to town to or from Eldorado, please notice the pink and black rocks in the roadcuts along I-25 – the pink is granite – and those formations are more than a billion years old.
  • The first settlers in our area were the Anasazi Indians who were here as far back as 12,000 years ago, according to the carbon dating of potsherds found in the Eldorado area as well as Pueblo ruins. It appears that the pueblo population ceased to exist on Lamy Ranch around 1325 A.D.  Today, Eldorado residents can still find potsherds and artifacts on their property.
  • Eldorado at Santa Fe and the Wilderness Conservation Area are located on what were two separate land grants from the Spanish.  The settlers raised sheep. We don’t know much about these grants before the early 1700s because the Palace of the Governors was set on fire and land grant records destroyed during the Pueblo Revolt of 1680.
  • Eldorado takes up most of what was once the Canada de los Alamos Grant, which was deeded to Lorenzo Marquez in 1785.  The next owner was Pablo Delgado. His son, Felipe, sold the land grant to Francisco Manzanares for $100.
  • The Santa Fe Trail, so named because it ended in Santa Fe, was most heavily traveled from 1821 through the late 1880s.  Canoncito, a stagecoach and U.S. Mail stop, was the most common point of departure from the trail. Many miners got off the trail and went south to Cerrillos, Madrid, Waldo, etc.
  • Just up the road, a Confederate force, hoping to secure the Colorado gold fields for the South, was turned back after losing its supply train at Apache Canyon. The Battle of Glorieta, March 26-28, 1862, has been called the Gettysburg of the West
  • Here’s some history of the Lamy Ranch from 1873-1970. In 1901, the Onderdonk Live Stock Company purchased the land for $10,000 from Artless Browne, becoming the Onderdonk Ranch, and leased the land to other ranchers to run cattle, sheep and goats.  In 1956, the ranch was sold to Alva and Annaliese Simpson for $12.50 an acre.  The Simpsons kept the ranch until 1970 when they sold it to AMREP for $3.2 million.  AMREP has originally planned a community of 25,000 homes, similar to Rio Rancho, but thanks to the Santa Fe County planners, that did not happen.
  • AMREP first built several tiled-roofed western style and stucco pueblo homes as models. Arrangements were made for special package trips available for land purchasers to view the lots and model homes.  Prospective buyers were picked up in limousines from the airport and wined and dined in Albuquerque and Santa Fe.  The first buyers were Jordan and Julia Weills of Illinois.  Julia still lives in the house they had built in 1973.
  • Since then, 2,600 homes have been built and there are 125 undeveloped lots in Eldorado.

**Information in this section is from the book “Windmills and Dreams – A History of the Eldorado Community and Neighboring Areas.”

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