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New Mexico State Highway Department

Tourism Publications

Over the years, and beginning at least as early as 1915, the N.M. State Highway Department issued a vast array of publications with an eye toward increasing tourism within the state, and to serve as guides to the state’s many scenic, recreational and cultural attractions. On this page will be seen representative examples
of publications of this type which were distributed during the first half of the 20th century.

A great many of these appeared under the name of the New Mexico State Highway Department, but sometimes instead showing the name of the new Mexico Highway Commission, the governing body which exercised general oversight of the Department. By about 1936 the New Mexico State Tourist Bureau had
been created as a division of the State Highway Department, with the result that its name can be found on later publications.
Through New Mexico on the Camino Real, 1915.  During its Territorial days, and for a number years after statehood was achieved in 1912, New Mexico had few roads and many of those were suitable only for travel on horseback, stagecoach, or by horse-drawn wagon. Even the State Engineer, who was the head of the Highway Department, reported to the Governor in 1914 that the roads were “deplorable.”

The Territorial Legislature in 1905 had authorized the construction of a road following the path of the Camino Real, the trail from El Paso, Texas to Santa Fe that was blazed by the Spaniards in the late 1500s. Unfortunately, only $10,000 was allocated, a tiny fraction of the actual amount required, and little was accomplished. Only upon creation of a State Highway Commission in 1912 did meaningful work begin.

By June 1915 the Camino Real road had not only been constructed, but had been extended all the way through Raton and to the Colorado state line. That is not to say that it resembled anything like what we would consider to be a proper road today. The majority of it was dirt, only a little of it graveled, and just tiny bits of it here and there oiled or paved.

Nonetheless, it was such an improvement over prior conditions that the State Highway Commission was rightly proud of the road and issued the book seen above, Through New Mexico on the Camino Real. Measuring 6" x 9", it has 56 pages, 49 full-page photographs, eight strip maps which together encompass the entire road from El Paso to Raton, and one of the earliest known Official New Mexico State Highway Department road maps for the entire state. It is unknown how many copies of this book were printed, but today it is considered rare.  Reproduced here are the cover and three of the 49 photographs.

This highway was initially designated State Road 1, and later, with a number of improvements and realignments, became U.S. Highway 85, a two-lane paved road throughout its length.  Finally, over a period of years beginning in the 1960s, it was rebuilt on an almost entirely new alignment as U.S. Interstate Highway 25. In conformance with the Interstate standard it had become a four-lane divided, limited access highway. (Portions of the old State Road 1 and U.S. 85 can still be seen paralleling I-25, in some places nearby and in others as much as several miles away.)
1929-1931 1934 Amarillo Sunday News Globe,
June 10, 1934
San Antonio Express,
June 17, 1934
Roads to Cibola, 1929-1934. This publication was first issued in 1929 in a magazine format of 8" x 11" and with 32 pages and 47 photographs. The selection, arrangement and number of photographs was revised somewhat in 1930 and again in 1931. A unique feature of the 1929-1930 editions is that they had a copy of the Official N.M. State Highway Department road map, folded to match the publication’s page size, and fastened to the inside back cover. The year of the map corresponded to the year of each revision of the publication, and the maps were identical to the individually issued Official maps except that they were printed only on the map side, with nothing on the back.

In 1934 the Highway Department set in motion an energetic advertising campaign designed to increase the number of tourists visiting the state. Ads were run in fourteen newspapers of nine major cities outside of New Mexico beginning May 20 and running for ten consecutive weeks. Each ad had a coupon that could be clipped and mailed to the Department for a free copy of both the 1934 edition of Roads to Cibola and the 1934 Official N.M. State Highway Department road map. (A more complete description of the advertising campaign can be found in New Mexico Magazine for June 1934, p.12).

In preparation for the advertising blitz, Roads to Cibola was completely revamped. The most obvious revision was a change from the magazine format to a 4" x 9" booklet, along with elimination of the Official road map in the back. On the other hand the number of pages was increased to 70, and the number of photographs and other illustrations increased to more than 250. As in the case of the earlier editions, the publication was organized according to the attractions to be seen along each of a number of different highways within the state. Since the full size Official map had been eliminated, the new 1934 edition included individual strip maps for each of the 23 highways covered.

The Highway Department reported that, in all, 170,000 copies of the 1929-1931 magazine format version were printed, plus 55,000 in the first printing of the 1934 booklet, for a total of 225,000.  (In view of the aforementioned advertising campaign, there were almost certainly additional printings in 1934 for which figures are not available.) Consequently, it is not terribly difficult to locate a copy of Roads to Cibola today.
1934-1938 booklet, 2 Weeks in New Mexico.  At 4" x 9", this publication is similar in size to the 1934 Roads to Cibola shown above, but with fewer pages and photos (32 and 66, respectively).  The material presented is also similar but the photos and narrative used are different from that in Roads to Cibola. Editions are known to exist for both 1934 and 1938, and while the photographs are essentially the same in both, the supplemental graphics are different. The title page in the 1934 edition states that the booklet has been compiled and printed by the New Mexico State Highway Department, while the 1938 edition identifies the source as the New Mexico State Tourist Bureau, reflecting the creation of the Bureau in about 1936 as a division within the Highway Department.
Welcome to the Land of Enchantment, circa 1938. This is a small folder, 3½" x 6¾", which opens out to approximately 14" x 14". Has 31 mostly small photos, with a brief description of each scene. The folder is not dated, but based on the body style of the automobile, the fact that it is a publication of the Tourist Bureau which was created about 1936, and the fact that the graphics accompanying the photos are similar to those in the 1938 edition of the 2 Weeks in New Mexico booklet shown above, its date is estimated to be circa 1938.
Partial panel of map side of 1941 Recreational Map of New Mexico
Recreational Map of New Mexico
Battlefields of the Conquistadors in New Mexico
Historical Trails Through New Mexico
Illustrated Maps, 1941-1956. Sometimes also called cartoon maps, their principal purpose is to show in a general way where various attractions are to be found, and for the most part are not particularly useful for navigation. Although the subject matter varies from one map to the next, they all have the general appearance of the partial panel of the 1941 “Recreational Map of New Mexico” shown above. New Mexico issued a number of these types of maps with varying themes during the 1940s and ’50s, three examples of which are illustrated here.

The 1941 “Recreational Map of New Mexico” and the 1942 “Battlefields of the Conquistadors in New Mexico” are reported to have also been reissued in subsequent years. “Historical Trails through New Mexico” is known to have been published in both 1951 and 1956, the former containing a greeting from Governor Edwin L. Mechem, and the latter a greeting from Governor John F. Simms. There may have been other releases as well.
New Mexico The Land of Enchantment, 1947-1950
Larger Version
  New Mexico The Land of Enchantment, 1947-1950
Smaller Version
Insert included with larger version   Original mailing envelope for larger version
New Mexico The Land of Enchantment appeared in two undated versions during the administration of Governor Thomas J. Mabry (1947-1950). Because of the absence of publication dates it is not known which appeared first, but one is in a larger 8" x 10½" format with 32 pages and 84 photographs, and the other in a somewhat smaller 8" x 9" size with 32 pages and 79 photos. Despite the size difference the content is quite similar, with photos showing much the same subject matter. The larger publication was also accompanied by a 4-page insert with additional details on the state, its climate and its attractions.
Welcome to New Mexico Land of Enchantment. Undated folder, circa mid-1950s, 3½" x 8¼", opens to 20½" x 16½". Has detailed descriptions of various aspects of the state along with 18 black & white photographs and four small maps showing points of interest.
Local and regional tourism publications. There has always been much interest at the local level in promoting tourism, as the dollars spent in doing so have a direct effect in bringing tourists—and their dollars—close to home. Illustrated here are just a very few of the innumerable publications distributed for this purpose.

Colfax County - Richest County in the World - 1911. Predating statehood by one year, measuring 7½" x 9", and with 36 pages and 36 photos, this is an exceptionally detailed booklet published by a consortium of commercial organizations in Colfax County. At this early date there was as much interest in enticing settlers to the area as tourists, and the publication touts not only the scenery but the availability of rich crop land at low prices and opportunities for people who would establish agriculture-related industries not yet in existence in the county. Examples given which would make use of local resources include the need for a flour mill, wool scouring plant, woolen mill, cement factory, brick manufacturing, food canning factories, and others.

Grant County New Mexico - The Scenic Region of the Southwest - 1926. This 8" x 9" folder has 22 scenic photographs and a fairly detailed 16" x 18" map of Grant County tucked inside of it. Published by the Grant County Chamber of Commerce.

See Southern New Mexico - early 1930s. An 8" x 9", 4-page booklet with 32 photographs focusing on attractions in the southern half of the state. Has a small, very basic map in the centerfold. Mutually published by the following organizations: Alamogordo Commercial Club, Capitan Commercial Club, Carlsbad Chamber of Commerce, Carrizozo Commercial Club, Cloudcroft Commercial Club, Deming Chamber of Commerce, Hatch Chamber of Commerce, Hot Springs Chamber of Commerce, Lordsburg Chamber of Commerce, Silver City Chamber of Commerce, Roswell Chamber of Commerce.


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