Columbus, New Mexico

Last updated
Columbus, New Mexico
Columbus New Mexico.jpg
View of Columbus from Pancho Villa State Park
Luna County New Mexico Incorporated and Unincorporated areas Columbus Highlighted.svg
Location of Columbus, New Mexico
Usa edcp location map.svg
Red pog.svg
Columbus, New Mexico
Location in the United States
Coordinates: 31°49′51″N107°38′30″W / 31.83083°N 107.64167°W / 31.83083; -107.64167 Coordinates: 31°49′51″N107°38′30″W / 31.83083°N 107.64167°W / 31.83083; -107.64167
Country United States
State New Mexico
County Luna
   Mayor Esequiel Salas
  Total2.8 sq mi (7.2 km2)
  Land2.8 sq mi (7.2 km2)
  Water0.0 sq mi (0.0 km2)
4,068 ft (1,240 m)
(2016) [1]
  Density590/sq mi (230/km2)
Time zone UTC-7 (Mountain (MST))
  Summer (DST) UTC-6 (MDT)
ZIP code
Area code(s) 575
FIPS code 35-17050
GNIS feature ID0897342

Columbus is a village in Luna County, New Mexico, United States, about 3 miles north of the Mexican border. It is considered a place of historical interest, as the scene of the attack in 1916 by Mexican revolutionary leader Francisco "Pancho" Villa that caused America to send 10,000 troops there in the punitive Mexican Expedition. The population was 1,664 at the 2010 census.

Luna County, New Mexico County in the United States

Luna County is a county located in the U.S. state of New Mexico. As of the 2010 census, the population was 25,095. Its county seat is Deming. This county abuts the Mexican border.

Mexico country in the southern portion of North America

Mexico, officially the United Mexican States, is a country in the southern portion of North America. It is bordered to the north by the United States; to the south and west by the Pacific Ocean; to the southeast by Guatemala, Belize, and the Caribbean Sea; and to the east by the Gulf of Mexico. Covering almost 2,000,000 square kilometres (770,000 sq mi), the nation is the fifth largest country in the Americas by total area and the 13th largest independent state in the world. With an estimated population of over 120 million people, the country is the eleventh most populous state and the most populous Spanish-speaking state in the world, while being the second most populous nation in Latin America after Brazil. Mexico is a federation comprising 31 states and Mexico City, a special federal entity that is also the capital city and its most populous city. Other metropolises in the state include Guadalajara, Monterrey, Puebla, Toluca, Tijuana and León.

Pancho Villa Mexican revolutionary

Francisco "Pancho" Villa was a Mexican revolutionary general and one of the most prominent figures of the Mexican Revolution.



Early history (1891-1910s)

Columbus was established in 1891 just across the Mexican border from Palomas, Chihuahua, Mexico, and named after 15th-century explorer Christopher Columbus. In 1902, the village was moved 3 miles north when the El Paso and Southwestern Railroad built its Columbus Station. This station is now converted into a museum run by the Columbus Historical Society. [2]

Christopher Columbus Italian explorer, navigator, and colonizer

Christopher Columbus was an Italian explorer, navigator, and colonist who completed four voyages across the Atlantic Ocean under the auspices of the Catholic Monarchs of Spain. He led the first European expeditions to the Caribbean, Central America, and South America, initiating the permanent European colonization of the Americas. Columbus discovered the viable sailing route to the Americas, a continent which was not then known to the Old World. While what he thought he had discovered was a route to the Far East, he is credited with the opening of the Americas for conquest and settlement by Europeans.

The El Paso and Southwestern Railroad was a short-line American railway company which operated in Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas, with line extensions across the international border into Mexico. The railroad was known as the Arizona and South Eastern Railroad from 1888 to 1902.

About 1905, it was a very small town with a community of about 100 residents, two of those early settlers being Colonel Andrew O. Bailey, and Louis Heller. By this time, Columbus had only one general store, a saloon, and a society inspector. In time, a high school was built, and Perrow G. Mosely established the Columbus News, which later was renamed as the Columbus Courier. By 1915, the town had 700 residents, the Columbus State Bank was built, four hotels were constructed, and several stores and a Baptist church were also established. At that time, Columbus also possessed rich silver, copper, lead, and zinc deposits. [3]

1916 Pancho Villa raid

Columbus after Villa's raid. Columbus.jpg
Columbus after Villa's raid.

On March 9, 1916, on the orders of Mexican revolutionary leader Pancho Villa, (Colonel) Francisco Beltrán, (Colonel) Candelario Cervantes, (General) Nicolás Fernández, (General) Pablo López, and others led 500 men in an attack against the town, which was garrisoned by a detachment of the 13th Cavalry Regiment. [4] Villa's army burned a part of the town and killed seven or eight soldiers and 10 residents before retreating back into Mexico.

13th Cavalry Regiment

The 13th Cavalry Regiment is a unit of the United States Army. The 2nd Squadron is currently stationed at Fort Bliss, Texas, as part of the 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division.

United States President Woodrow Wilson responded to the Columbus raid by sending 10,000 troops under Brigadier General John J. Pershing to Mexico to pursue Villa. This was known as the Punitive Mexican Expedition or Pancho Villa Expedition. The expedition was eventually called off after failing to find Villa, who had successfully escaped. [5] The Pershing expedition brought prosperity and international attention to Columbus and a realization that war had come to the border of the United States [6]

Woodrow Wilson 28th president of the United States

Thomas Woodrow Wilson was an American statesman and academic who served as the 28th president of the United States from 1913 to 1921. A member of the Democratic Party, Wilson served as the president of Princeton University and as the 34th governor of New Jersey before winning the 1912 presidential election. As president, he oversaw the passage of progressive legislative policies unparalleled until the New Deal in 1933. He also led the United States during World War I, establishing an activist foreign policy known as "Wilsonianism."

John J. Pershing Commanding general of the American Expeditionary Force in World War I

General of the Armies John Joseph "Black Jack" Pershing was a senior United States Army officer. His most famous post was when he served as the commander of the American Expeditionary Forces (AEF) on the Western Front in World War I, 1917–18.

Pancho Villa Expedition United States military operation

The Pancho Villa Expedition—now known officially in the United States as the Mexican Expedition, but originally referred to as the "Punitive Expedition, U.S. Army"—was a military operation conducted by the United States Army against the paramilitary forces of Mexican revolutionary Francisco "Pancho" Villa from March 14, 1916, to February 7, 1917, during the Mexican Revolution of 1910–1920.

From 1926 to the 1990s

In 1926 after the Punitive Expedition ended, Columbus started to change and decay over the decades. Camp Furlong activity was greatly reduced. The army decided to close their camp, and the El Paso and Southwestern Railroad stopped service in Columbus. After all these events, the economy naturally faded over time.

In the 1990s Columbus started to revitalize, with the development of city and state parks, museums, RV parks, and history involving the city. [7]

2011 gun-smuggling scandal

In July 2011, Columbus dissolved its police force after a gun-smuggling scandal that involved its village officials and others. [8] The mayor, a village trustee, a former police chief, and nine other people were indicted in the scandal. [8] The case was prosecuted by the United States Attorney from El Paso, Texas, before United States District Court Judge Robert Brack in Las Cruces, New Mexico. Of the 11 people charged, 10 pleaded guilty, with one person still at large. Sentences ranged from five years in federal prison to two years' probation. [9]


Columbus is located at 31°49′51″N107°38′30″W / 31.83083°N 107.64167°W / 31.83083; -107.64167 (31.830760, -107.641558). [10]

According to the United States Census Bureau, the village has a total area of 2.8 square miles (7.3 km2), all land.

The village is about 3 miles north of the international border between the United States of America and Mexico. The Mexican village of Puerto Palomas, Chihuahua, is on the opposite side of the border.


Historical population
1920 2,110
1930 391−81.5%
1940 265−32.2%
1950 251−5.3%
1960 30722.3%
1970 241−21.5%
1980 41471.8%
1990 64154.8%
2000 1,765175.4%
2010 1,664−5.7%
Est. 20161,623 [1] −2.5%
U.S. Decennial Census [11]

As of the census [12] of 2000, there were 1,765 people, 536 households, and 411 families residing in the village. The population density was 635.3 people per square mile (245.1/km²). There were 720 housing units at an average density of 259.2 per square mile (100.0/km²). The racial makeup of the village was 70.42% White, 0.68% African American, 0.57% Native American, 0.06% Asian, 25.50% from other races, and 2.78% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 83.34% of the population.

There were 536 households out of which 50.2% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 61.8% were married couples living together, 10.6% had a female householder with no husband present, and 23.3% were non-families. 20.5% of all households were made up of individuals and 12.5% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 3.29 and the average family size was 3.89.

In the village, the population was spread out with 39.2% under the age of 18, 7.7% from 18 to 24, 22.0% from 25 to 44, 18.6% from 45 to 64, and 12.5% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 28 years. For every 100 females, there were 100.8 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 99.6 males.

The median income for a household in the village was $13,773, and the median income for a family was $14,318. Males had a median income of $16,912 versus $12,344 for females. The per capita income for the village was $6,721. About 56.7% of families and 57.1% of the population were below the poverty line, including 67.0% of those under age 18 and 20.2% of those age 65 or over.

In 2010, Columbus had the 21st-lowest median household income of all places in the United States with a population over 1,000. [13]


Columbus Elementary School is part of the Deming Public Schools District.

Columbus Elementary School is located 30 miles south of Deming, New Mexico and 3 miles north of Palomas, Chihuahua, across the border in Mexico. About 90% of the students come from homes where Spanish is the dominant language. The staff at Columbus Elementary is required to be bilingually endorsed or working toward bilingual endorsement. The mission of Columbus Elementary School is to build on the students' bicultural and bilingual environment; they work in partnership with the parents and the community to enable students to reach their full potential. [14]

Students from Columbus and Puerto Palomas attend Columbus Elementary from preschool up to sixth grade. Students then move on to attend Red Mountain Middle School (6-8) in Deming, Hofacket Mid-High School (9-12), and Deming High School (9-12). [15]

Deming Public Schools buses U.S. citizen students residing in Mexico (including the city of Palomas) from the United States-Mexico border to Columbus Elementary and to upper grades in Deming. [16] [17]

Columbus Village Library

Columbus Village Library, the town's only public library, is located at 112 West Broadway, Columbus, NM 88029. Around 22,386 visits to this local library occur annually. Columbus Village Library has 14,989 books and serial volumes, 343 audios, 1,428 videos, and 30 computers. [18]

City of the Sun

An intentional community called City of the Sun is on the northern edge of Columbus. Started in 1972, the community has many unique, experimental homes. [19] Members of the community aim "to serve the Divine Purpose in community living with other Light Seekers." [20]

Pancho Villa's raid on Columbus is depicted in the novel The Friends of Pancho Villa (1996) by James Carlos Blake. In Spring Break Adventure, the sixth film in The Adventures of Young Indiana Jones series, Indiana Jones and his cousin are in town during Pancho Villa's raid, and he ends up joining Pancho Villa's army.

Columbus features in the 2008 film The Shepherd: Border Patrol starring Jean-Claude Van Damme. The 1989 cult classic Sonny Boy has Columbus-based locations.

See also

Related Research Articles

Lowndes County, Mississippi County in the United States

Lowndes County is a county located on the eastern border of the U.S. state of Mississippi. As of the 2010 census, the population was 59,779. Its county seat is Columbus. The county is named for U.S. Congressman William Jones Lowndes.

Naco, Arizona CDP in Arizona, United States

Naco, a Census-Designated Place (CDP) located in Cochise County, Arizona, United States had a recorded population of 1,046 during the 2010 census. It's located directly across the United States–Mexico border from its sister city Naco, Sonora. Naco is best known for an accidental 1929 air raid and is the first and only municipality in the Continental United States to have been aerially bombed by foreigners.

Holiday, Florida CDP in Florida, United States

Holiday is a census-designated place (CDP) in Pasco County, Florida, United States. It is a suburb of the Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, Florida Metropolitan Statistical Area. The population was 22,403 as of the 2010 census.

Mesilla, New Mexico Underworld in New Mexico, United States

Mesilla is a town in Doña Ana County, New Mexico, United States. The population was 2,196 at the 2010 census. It is part of the Las Cruces Metropolitan Statistical Area.

Whitehall, Ohio City in Ohio, United States

Whitehall is a city in Franklin County, Ohio, United States and an enclave on the east side of Columbus. The population was 18,062 at the 2010 census. The current mayor of Whitehall is Kim Maggard.

Villa Pancho, Texas Census-designated place in Texas, United States

Villa Pancho is a census-designated place (CDP) in Cameron County, Texas, United States. The population was 788 at the 2010 census, up from 386 at the 2000 census. It is part of the Brownsville–Harlingen Metropolitan Statistical Area.

Presidio, Texas City in Texas, United States

Presidio is a city in Presidio County, Texas, United States. It stands on the Rio Grande, on the opposite side of the U.S.–Mexico border from Ojinaga, Chihuahua. The name originates from the Spanish and means "jail". The population was 4,167 at the 2000 census, and had increased to 4,426 as of the 2010 US census.

Deming Public Schools is a public school district headquartered in Deming, New Mexico, United States.

Puerto Palomas, Chihuahua human settlement in Mexico

Puerto Palomas de Villa, also known simply as Palomas, is a small town of 4,688 people in the municipality of Ascensión, in the Mexican state of Chihuahua. It borders the village of Columbus, New Mexico, in the United States.


A cavalcade is a procession or parade on horseback, or a mass trail ride by a company of riders. The focus of a cavalcade is participation rather than display. Often, the participants do not wear costumes or ride in formation. Often, a cavalcade re-enacts an important historical event and follows a long distance trail. A cavalcade may also be a pilgrimage.

Village of Columbus and Camp Furlong

The Village of Columbus and Camp Furlong is a National Historic Landmark District commemorating the 1916 raid by Pancho Villa on the town of Columbus, New Mexico, and the American military response to that raid, the "Punitive Expedition" led by General John J. Pershing. The raid and its response, set during World War I, the Mexican Revolution, and an accompanying low-level Border War, played a significant role in diplomacy and military preparedness for eventual American entry in the World War. The district encompasses buildings which survived the raid, and military facilities used in the American response. The landmark designation was made in 1975.

Deming, New Mexico City in New Mexico, United States

Deming is a city located in Luna County, New Mexico, United States, 60 miles west of Las Cruces and thirty-three miles north of the Mexican border. The population was 14,855 according to the 2010 census. Deming is the county seat and principal community of Luna County.

Battle of Columbus (1916)

The Battle of Columbus, March 9, 1916, began as a raid conducted by Pancho Villa's Division of the North on the small United States border town of Columbus, New Mexico, located 3 miles (4.8 km) north of the border. The raid escalated into a full-scale battle between Villistas and the United States Army. Villa himself led the assault, only to be driven back into Mexico by elements of the 13th Cavalry Regiment stationed at the town. The attack angered Americans and President Woodrow Wilson ordered the Punitive Expedition in which the US Army invaded Mexico in an unsuccessful attempt to capture General Villa.

Border War (1910–1919) Mexican-American military engagements

The Border War, or the Border Campaign, refers to the military engagements which took place in the Mexico–United States border region of North America during the Mexican Revolution. The Bandit War in Texas was part of the Border War. From the beginning of the Mexican Revolution in 1910, the United States Army was stationed in force along the border and on several occasions fought with Mexican rebels or federals. The height of the conflict came in 1916 when revolutionary Pancho Villa attacked the American border town of Columbus, New Mexico. In response, the United States Army, under the direction of General John J. Pershing, launched an expedition into northern Mexico, to find and capture Villa. Though the operation was successful in finding and engaging the Villista rebels, and in killing Villa's two top lieutenants, the revolutionary himself escaped and the American army returned to the United States in January 1917. Conflict at the border continued, however, and the United States launched several additional, though smaller operations into Mexican territory until after the American victory in the Battle of Ambos Nogales, leading to the establishment of a permanent border wall. Conflict was not only subject to Villistas and Americans; Maderistas, Carrancistas, Constitutionalistas and Germans also engaged in battle with American forces during this period.

Battle of Parral

The Battle of Parral, on April 12, 1916, was the first battle between soldiers of Venustiano Carranza, known as Carrancistas, and the United States military during the Mexican Expedition. When a small force of American cavalry was leaving the city of Parral, in the Mexican state of Chihuahua, a superior force of Carrancista soldiers attacked which resulted in a bloody running engagement. Using a strategy of organized withdrawal, the Americans were able to repulse the Mexican attacks and safely escape to the fortified village of Santa Cruz de Villegas.

Raid on Glenn Springs

The raid on Glenn Springs occurred on the night of May 5–6, 1916, when Mexican Villistas and Carrancistas attacked the towns of Boquillas and Glenn Springs, Texas. In Glenn Springs, the raiders burned several buildings and fought a three-hour battle with a small force of American soldiers who were stationed there. At the same time, a second party of rebels robbed a general store and a silver mine in Boquillas. Four Americans were killed and the rebels took two hostages to Coahuila. In response to the attack, the United States Army launched a short punitive expedition into Mexico, fought with the rebels, and rescued the captives.

Columbus New Mexico Port of Entry

For many years, the Columbus New Mexico Port of Entry was the gateway for New Mexico's only border town. The US government first built a Customs inspection station in Columbus, New Mexico in 1902. In 1916, that building was damaged during a raid by bandits led by Pancho Villa. The building has been refurbished and stands as part of Pancho Villa State Park.


  1. 1 2 "Population and Housing Unit Estimates" . Retrieved June 9, 2017.
  2. Reynolds, Joyce. Pancho Villa & Columbus, NM. JReynolds Photo & Computer Works, Deming NM. p. 1.
  3. Sherman, James E.; Sherman, Barbara H. (1975). Ghost towns and mining camps of New Mexico. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press. Publishing Divisinon. pp. 51–54. ISBN   0-8061-1106-2 . Retrieved 11 February 2014.
  4. Page, Walter Hines; Page, Arthur Wilson (April 1916). "The March Of Events: Making Mexico Understand". The World's Work: A History of Our Time . XXXI: 584–593. Retrieved 2009-08-04.
  5. "U.S. Army Campaigns: Mexican Expedition". United States Army Center of Military History.
  6. "Columbus New Mexico". History of the Columbus Raid. NMSU Board of Regents. Archived from the original on 19 July 2014. Retrieved 18 February 2014.
  7. "The Village of Columbus NewMexico" . Retrieved 2014-02-13.
  8. 1 2 Liz Goodwin (July 12, 2011). "New Mexico town dissolves police dept after gun smuggling scandal". Yahoo. Retrieved July 12, 2011.
  9. Brian Fraga. Former Columbus, N.M., mayor sentenced in gun-smuggling case. Las Cruces Sun-News. Posted: June 14, 2012 Archived June 16, 2012, at the Wayback Machine
  10. "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. 2011-02-12. Retrieved 2011-04-23.
  11. "Census of Population and Housing". Archived from the original on May 12, 2015. Retrieved June 4, 2015.
  12. "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on 2013-09-11. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
  13. "US Census" . Retrieved 18 January 2014.
  14. "Columbus Elementary School - Columbus School Report Card".[ permanent dead link ]
  15. "Growth/Enrollment Analysis 2006-2017 Deming Public Schools" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2007-06-22. Retrieved 2007-04-29.
  16. Layton, Lyndsey (22 September 2013). "Children cross Mexican border to receive a U.S. education". The Washington Post. Retrieved 13 November 2013.
  17. Viren, Sarah (August 29, 2007). "Mexican children cross border to go to school". Houston Chronicle.
  18. "Columbus Village Library". Homefacts. Hidden Rocks, LLC. Retrieved 3 March 2014.
  19. "City of the Sun". Mary and Keith's Excellent Adventure!. April 12, 2010.
  20. "Bylaws (readopted 2006)". Member's webpage. Archived from the original on 2013-03-20. Retrieved March 6, 2013.

Further reading