by Mike Magers
Santa Rosa is the county seat of Guadalupe County. It now mostly sits on the east side of the Pecos River but was founded in 1865 on the west side. It first got a post office in 1873 and took the name of Santa Rosa. On the east side of the river, a separate community grew up and was named Eden. When the old Santa Rosa post office closed in 1898, the community of Eden took the name of Santa Rosa and has remained as such ever since. The name was selected by an early resident by the name of Celso Baca, both in honor of the first canonized saint in America (St. Rose of Lima) and also for Baca’s wife (or some reports say his mother) Rosa, who is supposedly buried in the chapel of the same name. Rail service arrived in 1901, which helped assure the future life of the town.
Santa Rosa is a stop on the historic Route 66 although when I-40 was built, it bypassed the central business district by straightening the route through the area. Santa Rosa is the home of Santa Rosa High School and the Lions. In football, the Lions are tied for 10th in all time state championship wins with 8 and tied for 9th in all time state championship appearances with 15. Thus far, the winningest coach is Frank Ortiz who compiled a 202-72 record in his 24 year tenure as head coach. This places him 7th on the all time list and 5th for most wins at one school.
The Lions hold 3rd place in consecutive wins with 29 and 4th on the list of games without a loss (which includes ties), with Animas being the leader in both categories.
The Lions are coming off back-to-back seasons of 5-7 but for the 10 years prior to that, they achieved a record of 104-18, reaching the playoffs each year and taking the championship title in 2012 with a 13-0 record, the third of three consecutive state titles.
Four feature films have been shot with locations in Santa Rosa, the most notable one being John Ford’s The Grapes of Wrath. It is also the childhood residence of author Rudolfo Anaya who wrote the best seller, Bless Me Ultima.