New Mexico lost more service members in World War II than any other state. As a national war bond drive leader, the state had fifty federal installations, including glider and bombardier training schools. Sixty-five thousand young men (and 700 young women) joined the military during the war, where they received a wide range of technical training and experienced the outside world for the first time. There were high wages, jobs for everyone, rationing, and shortages during wartime because of government spending. In the postwar years, federal facilities contributed significantly to the state’s economy. Since New Mexico relied on both the smokestack industry and scenic tourism, it was at the center of debates over clean air legislation, particularly the Clean Air Act of 1967 and its amendments in 1970 and 1977. New Mexico became the first of only four states to adopt the English Plus resolution, which supports the acceptance of non-English languages, in 1989.
Many Californians migrated to the state during the 1990s, resulting in continued population growth. Despite the rapid growth of its population, New Mexico remains one of the poorest states in the country. This is despite increasing exploitation of oil, gas, and other mineral resources and increased agricultural production through improved irrigation. In March 1999, the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in southeastern New Mexico opened, becoming the world’s first underground storage facility for radioactive waste.
Here are some fascinating photos of New Mexico in the 1980s and 1990s.