East Mountain Historical Society

Dedicated to preserving “la cultura de las montañas” – the culture of the mountains.

Settling the East Mountains

Ancestors of the pueblo Indians first settled the East Mountains about 700 A.D., visible remains of which may be seen at Tijeras Pueblo off north NM 337, just south of Interstate 40. Spanish missionaries arrived in the early 1600s, and founded missions at six locations, including Chilili, Tajique, Quarai and Abo. Spanish colonial settlers built estancias (large farm-ranch centers) between Chilili and Quarai. Drought and Apache raids forced a Spanish retreat about 1670, but settlers returned in 1763 to establish a plaza at Carnuel at the mouth of Tijeras Canyon. After a difficult start, more Spanish colonists arrived in the early 1800s, establishing farms and villages on lands north and south along what is today NM 14. A third wave of immigrants arrived in the early 1900s, as cabins were built to accommodate Anglo-Americans from Albuquerque drawn to the mountains for summer recreation and those from all over the nation drawn by the cool air believed to help in the cure of tuberculosis. After World War II, the mountains became a bedroom community for Albuquerque, as commuter homes and subdivisions took shape. Today, the area generally known as the East Mountains is home to more than 10,000 residents.