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LDS Tours in New Mexico-LDS Tours in Cancun – LDS in New Mexico

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Although the Mormon Battalion traversed New Mexico from its northeast to its southwest corner in 1846, the next significant LDS contact in that territory did not occur until nearly three decades later. In 1876 two members of a group of LDS missionaries otherwise assigned to Mexico found notable success in proselytizing among the Zuni in western New Mexico. Subsequent labors among the Zuni were less successful, but a number of Navajos were converted. In 1876, missionaries founded the settlement of Savoia, about twenty miles east of the Zuni village, and were joined by LDS converts from the southern states. The southerners soon moved to LDS settlements on the Little Colorado River in Arizona, and in 1882 the remaining settlers, reinforced by expatriates from the Little Colorado, relocated a few miles south. Eventually named Ramah, the village continues as a predominantly LDS community. Ramah was a major focus in a landmark interdisciplinary study of five cultures by Harvard University scholars in the mid-twentieth century.

Meanwhile, Latter-day Saints settled along the San Juan River at Fruitland, in northwestern New Mexico, in 1878. Kirtland and Waterflow, additional LDS villages along the San Juan, were initiated in the early 1880s, and Bluewater, a short distance to the north, was founded in 1894. In 1912, Fruitland became headquarters for the Young Stake, which also included wards and branches in nearby southwestern Colorado.

Farther south but also near New Mexico’s western border, a group of Latter-day Saints settled in the Luna Valley, beginning in 1883. The Luna Ward was closely associated with LDS congregations across the border in Arizona.

Additional LDS congregations were established in western New Mexico at Pleasanton, Socorro County (1882-1889); and at Virden, Hidalgo County (from 1915). The latter was settled by refugees from the Mormon colonies in Mexico dislodged by the Mexican Revolution.

Most LDS wards and branches established in the twentieth century served minorities in communities east of these predominantly Mormon villages. In the first third of the century, congregations were organized at Albuquerque, Gallup, Taos, Silver City, Clovis, Tres Piedras, Pagosa Springs, and Thoreau. By 1990, as a result of widespread proselytizing and of in-migration, there were 49,000 Latter-day Saints in New Mexico.

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