"The Lady on the Mountain" is a rock formation on Magdalena Peak overlooking Magdalena. Spanish soldiers saw the profile of a woman on the west face of the peak. A priest with them was reminded of a similar peak in Spain called "La Sierra de Maria Magdalena,"so he called the New Mexico one "La Sierra de Magdalena". The pass to the south of the peak became known as Magdalena Gap. Magdalena was incorporated as a town in 1913, during a mining boom.
Magdalena is known as the "Trails End" for the railroad spur line that was built in 1885 from Socorro to Magdalena to transport the cattle, sheep wool, timber and ore. Thousands of cattle and sheep were driven into town (cowboy style) from the west, using the historic "Magdalena Trail." This stockyard driveway was used annually, from 1885 through 1916 when the driveway was officially designated by law through the signing of the "Grazing Homestead Act." It was continually in use through 1971. The original stockyards are still intact.
Magdalena continues to be a ranching community while strengthening its art, astronomy and geology venues.
The reopening of the Magdalena Hall Hotel (circa 1917) and the renovation of other historical buildings allow visitors to connect to the past. The Magdalena Public Library and Boxcar Museum are housed in the old railroad depot.
Several rock and mineral shops have been around since the mining boom days. The nearby ghost town of Kelly and two festivals, the "Open Studio and Gallery Tour" and the "Old Timers Reunion and Rodeo," bring tourists to the area. The "Enchanted Skies Star Party" in early fall brings astronomers and astro-photographers together under its very dark skies.