Jarilla Junction, once a station on the El Paso and Northeastern Railroad, was renamed Orogrande when a gold nugget the size of a man's finger was discovered in 1905. Prospecting had started as early as 1879 in the Jarilla Mountains but the 1905 discovery started a gold rush and gave birth to the town of Orogrande. For several years thereafter, the town was the hub of intense mining activity and the population grew to several thousand people. A fifty-five mile long water pipe was laid from the Sacramento River to the townsite. Almost overnight, a hundred homes were built to house only a fraction of the influx of people. Some were forced to live in hastily erected shacks and tents. As happened so many times before, there was less gold than had been anticipated and mining activity began to wane. Today Orogrande is reduced to a post office, a few businesses and about fifteen families.
Courtesy Henry Chenoweth.
Orogrande is 34 miles south of Alamogordo on US 54. The old school is about 100 yards off the highway at the north end of town. The road into the Jarilla Mountains is rough. Also, use caution when exploring the mining district.
Orogrande is 36 miles south of Alamogordo and 49 miles northeast of El Paso, Texas, on U.S. 54.