In the sixteenth century nomadic Indians, such as the Mansos, occupied the Mesilla Valley.
Indian Pueblos were located to the north and west. Apaches and other tribes regularly passed through the area and camped in Mesilla. In 1540, Coronado traveled through
New Mexico and since he did not find the cities of gold and jewels he had expected, little interest was shown in the state for the next 40 years. Juan de Onate and others
came to New Mexico in 1598. From El Paso, they followed the Rio Grande north to conquer the Pueblos and explore for gold and
silver. Onate's route became a link between the Spanish settlements of El Paso and Santa Fe and became known as El Camino Real, or the
Chihuahua-Santa Fe Trail. It is recorded that Onate stopped in the vicinity of Mesilla on his journey north, but no settlement was established here for
over 200 years. After being conquered by the Spaniards and living under Spanish rule, the Pueblo Indians revolted in 1692. Diego de Vargas,
traveling north on El Camino Real, organized a successful reconquest soon thereafter. He and his men also passed in the vicinity of Mesilla. New
Mexico remained under Spanish rule until 1821, when Mexico achieved her independence from Spain. From this time onward trading along the
Chihuahua-Santa Fe Trail flourished and the Rio Grande Valley became both a politically and commercially valuable territory.