About Catron County
Catron County lies in the highlands of western New Mexico. Most of the terrain is an arid, hilly plain with an elevation above 7,000 feet. Numerous mountain ranges in the county reach above 8,000 feet, and some to nearly 10,000 feet. Only the highest mountains receive much rainfall. The population is very sparse, almost two square miles per person. The population in 2010 was only 3,725, and the area is 6,929 square miles including just 1 square mile of water. In spite of the barrenness of the land, there are dramatic cliffs and mesas and prominent mountain ranges. Many areas are covered with junipers and cedars and the highest mountains sport beautiful forests of ponderosa pine, quaking aspen and other trees and bushes, although generally the undergrowth is sparse.
Catron County was organized in 1921, being split off from Socorro County, which now lies to the east. It was a part of Mexico from the 1600s until the Mexican-American War in 1848 when it was ceded to the United States. It was part of the “wild west,” with gold mining, gunfights, shootouts and massacres. One settlement of Mormon pioneers also reached the county at Luna. It is named after Thomas B. Catron, an attorney and politician from Santa Fe.