The Mission Trail leads southeast from El Paso, tracing a royal road traveled by early Spanish colonists headed north to Santa Fe, now called the El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro National Historic Trail. After the Pueblo Revolt of 1680 the road carried Spanish and American Indians fleeing south to a place they called Socorro after their former New Mexico home. They built an adobe church in 1691, then another in the 1740s, both destroyed by Rio Grande floods. The 1691 site remains a State Archeological Landmark. A third church, the adobe-brick Socorro Mission La Purísima church, dates to 1840 and was recently restored in the heart of one of the Southwest’s oldest settlements. Another fine example of frontier architecture is Casa Ortiz, a late-1700s home with original cottonwood and willow vigas. Socorro’s acequias provided river water for family farms in the 19th century. A 1916 dam on the Rio Grande allowed large-scale cotton farming. About that time, Socorro became home to a “poor farm” known as Rio Vista Farm. In the following decades its adobe structures housed indigent farm families, Depression-era workers, World War II internees and Mexican “bracero” workers. The farm’s 15 historic buildings are on the National Register of Historic Places.

Socorro