The Jornada del Muerto, which translates to “Journey of the Dead Man,” is a desert region that stretches between the Rio Grande and the Sacramento Mountains in the middle of the state. The Jornada del Muerto has a long and varied history, and it has played a significant role in the development of New Mexico and the Southwest and the world. The region was originally inhabited nearby by Native American tribes, including the Apache, who used the area for hunting, farming, and trade.
In the 16th century, the Jornada del Muerto was explored and colonized by Spanish conquistadors, who established a number of missions and settlements in the region. The Jornada del Muerto was also a key route for Spanish and Mexican colonizers, who used it to travel between the interior of New Spain/Mexico and the New Mexico territory.
One of the most significant events in the history of the Jornada del Muerto was the Trinity test, which took place on July 16, 1945. The test, which was part of the Manhattan Project, was the first-ever test of a nuclear weapon, and it was conducted in the Jornada del Muerto desert southeast of Socorro, New Mexico. The test had a significant impact on the region and was a major turning point in the history of New Mexico and the world. Nearby villages like Tularosa were affected from the nuclear fallout and people from these villages who have developed various forms of cancer from the fallout are sometimes referred to as “Downwinders.”
Today, the Jornada del Muerto is a remote and sparsely populated region, and it is home to a number of scientific and research facilities, including the White Sands Missile Range and the Jornada Experimental Range. Additionally, Spaceport America, which is located near Engle, NM, is located in the vicinity. The nearby region is also popular with tourists and outdoor enthusiasts, who come to explore its natural beauty and rich history. However, people are not allowed on much of the Jornada due to it still being a government protected area.
Recently, a newly released Discovery+ documentary, “Gold, Lies, and Videotape,” deals with the history of the gold claims at Victorio Peak. It is a fascinating tale of alleged raiding of billions of dollars worth of gold stored in the mountains that are located adjacent to the Jornada del Muerto.
Despite its harsh and unforgiving environment, the Jornada del Muerto has a long and fascinating history, and it continues to play an important role in the development and identity of New Mexico and the Southwest. Its rich cultural and scientific heritage make it a unique and fascinating place, and it is well worth a visit for anyone interested in the history and culture of the Southwest.