Polvadera, New Mexico

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Polvadera, New Mexico
Polvadera, New Mexico is located in the United States
Polvadera, New Mexico
Polvadera, New Mexico
Location in the United States
Coordinates: 34°11′54″N 106°55′16″W / 34.19833°N 106.92111°W / 34.19833; -106.92111Coordinates: 34°11′54″N 106°55′16″W / 34.19833°N 106.92111°W / 34.19833; -106.92111
CountryUnited States
StateNew Mexico
 • Total4.148 sq mi (10.743 km2)
 • Land4.148 sq mi (10.743 km2)
 • Water0.0 sq mi (0.0 km2)
4,662 ft (1,421 m)
 • Total414
 • Density98.804/sq mi (38.535/km2)
Time zoneUTC-7 (Mountain (MST))
 • Summer (DST)UTC-6 (MDT)
ZIP code
Area code(s)575
GNIS feature ID923651

Polvadera (La Polvadera de San Lorenzo) is an unincorporated community and census-designated place in Socorro County in central New Mexico, United States. It is located on the west bank of the Rio Grande, near the mouth of the Rio Salado, and on the western spur of El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro.


The name may be based upon a Piro name for the place,[1] but altered in form because polvareda means dusty in Spanish, which, as US Army Lt. Emory noted in 1846,[2] it certainly is. Other spellings of the name include Pulvidera[3] and Pulvedera.[4] The church in Polvadera was dedicated to San Lorenzo and his feast day, August 10, is the local fiesta.[5]


Polvadera was founded as a farming community in the 1620s after Juan de Oñate had established the province of Santa Fe de Nuevo México, when Spanish settlers came north and settled among the Piro Pueblo Indians.[6] The name of the original Piro pueblo there is unknown and its ruins, which may have been destroyed by the meandering of the Rio Grande, have not been excavated. In 1629 Apaches destroyed the pueblo of Polvareda.[7] It was subsequently rebuilt, but was abandoned as a result of the Pueblo Revolt of 1680, and because of further Apache raiding after the reconquest was not resettled again until the early 19th century after Governor Fernando Chacón reopened the area for settlement.

Apache and Navajo raids continued until after the American Civil War when the US Army began a strenuous interdiction policy.[8] The town was attacked as late as 1846 by over a hundred Navajo who made away with a large number of livestock.[9]

Camp Connelly, sometimes called Fort Connelly,[6] was established by Colonel Canby in 1862 adjacent to Polvadera, on land leased from the then governor Henry Connelly.[10] Lt. William Brady was sent there as a recruiting officer to process volunteers.[11] Camp Connelly was only maintained until the end of the civil war in 1865.[10]

The Santa Fe Railroad came through in 1882 and the Post Office in Polvadero was established in 1895.[12] The current church of San Lorenzo was built in 1898.[13]

Polvadera has always been subject to the flooding of the Rio Grande. Major floods occurred in 1898, which destroyed the church, in 1929, and 1937.[1][14] Formerly, the major diversion of Rio Grande water for irrigation in Socorro County occurred at Polvadera; however, after the floods of 1929 a new diversion was built upstream at San Acacia.[15]

In 1958 when Interstate 25 was being built down the Rio Grande valley, Polvadera was not given an exit, the nearest exit provided was at Lemitar a few miles to the south.[16]


Polvadera is primarily a farming community. Before Prohibition, it had large areas devoted to grapes for the production of wine.[17] More recently chile has been the main crop.[6]


Nearby, to the west of the community, is San Lorenzo Canyon, a popular hiking and picnic spot.[18]


  1. ^ a b Harden, Paul (September 4, 2010). "Polvadera y Chamisal: Two of Socorro County's historic villages and the San Lorenzo Land Grant" (PDF). El Defensor Chieftain. Archived from the original (PDF) on July 18, 2011.
  2. ^ Arrived at the town of Pulvidera, which we found, as its name implies, covered with dust. quoted in Marshall, Michael P. and Walt, Henry J., (1984) "Chapter 12: Post-Revolt Place Names: Polvareda" Rio Abajo: Prehistory and History of a Rio Grande Province New Mexico Historic Preservation Division, Santa Fe, p. 279, OCLC 11553460
  3. ^ US Census of 1850
  4. ^ US Census of 1870
  5. ^ Pearce, T. M. (1965) "Polvadera" New Mexico place names; a geographical dictionary University of New Mexico Press, Albuquerque, NM, p. 124, OCLC 420847
  6. ^ a b c Federal Writers’ Project (1989) "Polvareda" The WPA Guide to 1930s New Mexico University of Arizona Press, Tucson, p. 251, ISBN 0-8165-1102-0
  7. ^ Pérez, Juan Manuel (2005) "The Hispanic Role in America: A Chronology" Coloquio Revista Cultural October 2005 Archived March 29, 2007, at the Wayback Machine, accessed February 22, 2009
  8. ^ Kelly, Lawrence C. (1968) The Navajo Indians and Federal Indian Policy University of Arizona Press, Tucson, p. 5, ISBN 0-8165-0065-7
  9. ^ Marshall, Michael P. and Walt, Henry J., (1984) "Chapter 12: Post-Revolt Place Names: Polvadera" Rio Abajo: Prehistory and History of a Rio Grande Province New Mexico Historic Preservation Division, Santa Fe, p. 279, OCLC 11553460
  10. ^ a b Rathburn, Daniel C. B. and Alexander, David V. (2003) "Connelly, Camp, Socorro County" New Mexico Frontier Military Place Names Yucca Tree Press, Las Cruces, New Mexico, p. 43, ISBN 1-881325-50-4
  11. ^ Lavash, Donald R. (1986) Sheriff William Brady: Tragic Hero of the Lincoln County War Sunstone Press, Santa Fe, NM, pp. 23, ISBN 0-86534-064-1
  12. ^ Dike, Sheldon H. (1958) The Territorial Post Offices of New Mexico Dike, Albuquerque, OCLC 10228225
  13. ^ Harden, Paul (2007) "The Mission Churches in Socorro County – Part 2", originally published in the El Defensor Chieftain of September 8, 2007
  14. ^ Staff (August 21, 1929) "Engineers for Conservancy District Will Investigate Fiver Needs in Flood Zone" Albuquerque Journal p. 1 col.4
  15. ^ Wozniak, Frank E. (1987) Irrigation in the Rio Grande Valley, New Mexico: A Study of the Development of Irrigation Systems Before 1945 New Mexico Historic Preservation Division, Santa Fe, New Mexico, p. 137, OCLC 17617974
  16. ^ Staff (October 23, 1958) "Fenced Off US 85, Village Anger Rises" Albuquerque Journal p. 1 col.3, p. 10 col. 1–5
  17. ^ Davis, W. W. H. (1938) El Gringo: Or, New Mexico & Her People Rydal Press, Santa Fe, New Mexico, pp. 191–193 OCLC 4803385; originally published in 1857 by Harper & Brothers, New York OCLC 166604054
  18. ^ "San Lorenzo Canyon Recreation Area" US Bureau of Land Management

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