Elephant Butte Inn and Spa

History of Sierra County..Before it was Sierra County, Pt. 4

In 1862, the Confederate Texas Contingent marched north from Mesilla, which the Rebels had captured eight months earlier. They were intent on taking Fort Union, north of Santa Fe. In between lay Fort Craig, in the heart of what would be Sierra County. Blue and gray-clad troops faced off in the village of Valverde just north of the fort and fought a bloody battle. The Confederates won the field that day in February but failed to capture the fort. It proved to be a tactical error that eventually ended the Southerners' goal of conquering the entire Southwest to gain control of Colorado gold and Pacific ports.

Beginning in the 1870s, mining became a major industry in the area. The Bridal Chamber mine in Lake Valley, for example, yielded nearly six million ounces of silver. Other mines were rich in silver, gold, copper, and lead. It was this industry, along with ranching, that fueled economic development.

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