San Mateo, New Mexico

Encyclopedia Article


A small village located in central New Mexico, just northeast of Grants, about 100 miles west of Albuquerque. Prior to becoming known as the "Uranium Capital of the World" during the second half of the twentieth century, San Mateo was a small Hispanic village located near the western flanks of Mt. Taylor. Settled during the sixteenth century, San Mateo became a religious center for the remote and sparsely-settled area. Members of the Penitente Brotherhood practiced in San Mateo, as evinced by the small morada (temple of worship), located near the town. San Mateo lies in the heart of the Grants mineral belt, an expanse of land extending west from Albuquerque toward the New Mexico-Arizona border, where extensive uranium mining was in operation from the early 1950s to the late 1990s.

Photo Credit: 

"Penitente's cross near San Mateo, New Mexico, circa 1898," photograph by George Wharton James, is licensed under Public Domain.

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