Socorro is in Socorro County
, and in the Southwest New Mexico
region (of which it is the county seat). Socorro is located south of Albuquerque
between Albuquerque and Truth or Consequences
along US Highway 85 on the banks of the Rio Grande
River near the Cibola National Forest
The population est imate for July 1, 1998 was 8,616, an increase of 457 since 1990.
Known as one of the oldest settlements in the Southwest, the city's name means "refuge" or "aid," and dates back to 1598 when people of the Pilabo Pueblo fed and sheltered weary members of the Juan de Onate expeditions. The addition of the Santa Fe Railroad in 1880 made possible extensive mining for ore, and Socorro quickly became New Mexico's largest town. Ten years later, mining opportunities had diminished and Socorro returned to its agricultural heritage. These days, Socorro is home to the National Radio Astronomy Observatory's VLA, the Bosque Del Apache and the nationally recognized New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology.