Two Spaniards, Captain Don Diego Torres and Antonio Salazar, Torres’ brother-in-law, founded Belen in 1740.
They named it Belen, Spanish for Bethlehem, in honor of that town. The forty families who founded Belen began a community based on agriculture. By the 19th century, Belen’s economy had expanded into sheep herding, and the town grew. After New Mexico became a territory of the United Stated in 1846, immigrants began arriving and the Belen area developed as a mercantile center with trade base extending west to the Arizona line and east to the Estancia Valley. The arrival of the railroad in 1880 eventually brought shops, a roundhouse, ice plant, and yards containing miles of track and a depot. In 1918, the village of Belen came into existence. The first village ordinance was passed July 1, 1919 to provide for methods of enacting ordinances that would result in officials and taxes as well as fire and police protection.
Belen became a town in 1940 and then a city in 1966. Today Belen boasts stores, motels, restaurants, friendly residents, and interesting places to visit and enjoy.
Belen’s friendliness comes from being a well-established community that welcomes everyone. Many people have strong roots in the area and those people embrace everyone, especially folks who love the area and make it their home. The old-fashioned values in the greater Belen area bring citizens together to support their community and each other. In Belen, the sense of community has been strong for decades and will continue to be strong because of the citizens.
The City of Belen has prepared for growth within its community. Improvement projects have been made on all four entrances into the City and revitalization of the down town area.