Sandoval County, New Mexico
By the creation of McKinley County, in 1901, and of Sandoval, in 1903, the original county of Bernalillo was reduced from one of the largest in the Territory to one of very moderate extent. Sandoval County located its county seat at the old established town of Bernalillo, a place of about 1,000 people, situated on the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe road, in one of the fertile gardens of the Rio Grande valley.
Sandoval is the second county in the Territory, both from the north and the west. Rio Arriba and McKinley adjoining it in those directions, and Santa Fe and Bernalillo counties on the east and south. Its eastern portions are chiefly watered by the Rio Grande and the Rio Jemez, one of its western branches, while its central and western sections lie principally within the water-shed of the Rio Puerco, a still larger branch of that parent stream. Both of these branches have numerous smaller tributaries, and the country is also well supplied with living springs. The county is not only broken and diversified by innumerable river valleys, but by short ranges of mountains, such as the Jemez, in the north, the Valles in the northeast, the Chaca Mesa in the northwest, and the Sierro Chiboto and Navajo in the southwest.
The population is principally settled in the valley of the Rio Grande, which in this county is particularly adapted to agriculture, horticulture and viniculture. Here, without exception, the fruits of the temperate zone find a kindly home. Apples, however, thrive better on the uplands than in the low bottom lands. In the mountain valleys this fruit can be raised without irrigation on account of the abundant rain, and the heavy snows of winter seem to improve its quality and flavor, especially the late varieties. Peaches, plums, cherries and apricots thrive better in the lower river valleys. The rich soil of these localities is also well adapted to corn, eighty bushels to the acre being no uncommon crop. Wheat flourishes both in the valleys and on the mesas. Outside of the Rio Grande valley that of the Jemez produces profitable crops of the cereals, melons and all kinds of vegetables.
The areas outlying from the Rio Grande and its tributaries are generally well, grassed, rolling or broken by hills and canyons, and clothed with considerable timber. It is largely a country of sheep and cattle ranges, the hills, canyons and timber affording excellent winter protection for the stock.
As to minerals, the districts covering the Jemez and Valles mountains are rich in silver and copper. The former region also contains a number of medicinal springs of great value, and when it becomes easier of access will undoubtedly become a favorite health resort. The Valle's district developed, in 1893-4, into one of the most famous mining camps in the Southwest. Hundreds of locations were made and several villages established, of which the most pretentious was Bland. The region was named the Cochiti district, from an Indian pueblo of the locality. Beds of excellent bituminous coal are found in the Puerco valley. It is so easily mined and handled that it pays to team it with oxen to Albuquerque and sell it as low as $4 per ton. The coal fields extend throughout the entire area of the valley, and in the northern part near Copper City (just over the county line), the veins are of unusual thickness, one of them showing twenty-five feet of clear coal, with no admixture of slate.
Since the organization of Sandoval County the following officials have served, those for 1903 being appointed by the governor, and those for 1904 being elected:
1903: Commissioners, E. A. Miera, Ignacio Gutierres. Esquipula Baca; .superintendent of schools, J. B. Archuleta: sheriff. Fred J. Otero-Alfredo Sandoval, the first appointee, not being allowed to serve, as he was not a holder of real estate; treasurer and collector, Manuel Baca; probate clerk. O. P. Hovey; assessor. V. S. Miera.
1904: Commissioners, Pantaleon Mora. Juan Dominguez, Pedro Castillo: superintendent of schools, J. F. Silva; sheriff, Emiliano Sandoval; treasurer, E. A. Miera; probate clerk. Marcos C. de Baca; assessor, Abel E. Pecea.
Bernalillo, on the Santa Fe road, eighteen miles above Albuquerque, is the principal town in the county, as already mentioned. Picturesquely and favorably located, in the midst of a wide area of fruitful fields and orchards, it has been the residence of some of the most influential citizens of the Territory for many years. The town, with the rich country immediately adjacent to it probably contains 3,000 people. It is located in the midst of a broad valley of rich alluvial land, largely devoted to the production of grapes and fruits, as well as agricultural products. Winemaking, fruit culture and wheat raising are the representative industries; but outside the cultivable valley there is a wide stretch of admirable stock country, and the wool marketed at this point makes it one of the largest shipping points in the Territory. The Jemez River empties into the Rio Grande near Bernalillo, and the substantial bridge at this point leads to the road which follows the former stream to the Jemez Springs and Sanitarium. Wallace was at one time the end of a railroad division, but is now best known as the station for the Cochiti mining district, and also for Santo Domingo Pueblo.
Peña Blanca is a flourishing community, largely Mexican, on the east bank of the Rio Grande, at the head of the valley in this county, and a few miles from the railroad line. Above this point the river flows through a narrow canyon for about twenty miles called the Caja del Rio, the "box of the river"; it is also known as the White Rock canyon. At this point the valley land is exceedingly wide and fertile. Peña Blanca has been settled for many years, and until the abolishment of Santa Aña County, in 1876, was its county seat.
Source: History of New Mexico, Its Resources and People, Volume II, Pacific States Publishing Co., 1907.
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