Reserve is a "wild west" town in the hills of western New Mexico which still preserves the look of its early days of miners, cowboys and Indians, and shootouts in the streets. It sits on the bank of the San Francisco River, which brings water from the 10,000-foot peaks of Escondido Mountain. The dramatic Starkwater Canyon cuts through Saliz Mountain just northwest of the town. The area is mostly forested, although it is arid, and undergrowth is scarce.
Reserve is the county seat of Catron County, a remote area where the population density is about half a person per square mile. Towns are small and far between. Reserve itself has a population of just 387 (at the 2000 census).
Reserve, and the valley along the river, was settled in the 1860s by Mexican Americans. They named the settlements Upper, Middle and Lower San Franciso Plaza. Reserve was the upper plaza. It was later renamed Milligan's Plaza, after a saloon owner. It was later renamed Reserve, after the National Forest Service headquarters there.
About 1882, Reserve was the site of a legendary gunbattle known as the Frisco Shootout. Elfego Baca, a nineteen year-old who appointed himself deputy sheriff, rode 130 miles on horseback from Socorro to bring justice to the mob of drunken cowboys who had terrorized the community. He arrested Charles McCarty, one of the group, and was attacked by a mob of 80 angry men. He holed up in a hut for 33 hours, killing and injuring many of them while he himself was uninjured.
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San Francisco River|
State Highway 12
The Lane Road