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The New Mexico city of Aztec is situated in San Juan County. It was named after the large Aztec ruins nearby. The written history of the city begins in 1776, when Father Francisco Velaz de Escalante and Father Francisco Atanosio Dominquez arrived in the area. They were looking for a trail to the California missions. While they didn't find a suitable trail to California, they did discover a route to theSan Juan Basin. By 1887, an early trading post a small agricultural community had sprung up, and the area was rife with cattle and sheep. By the turn of the century, the town had a drugstore, a barber shop, blacksmith, livery barn, a flour mill, stores, two lawyers, a doctor, and a dentist. In 1903, telephone service was available in town, and in 1905, the Denver & Rio Grande River Railroad operated from Durango, Colorado to Aztec, positioning the town to be a key shipping point for sheep and cattle. In 1921, oil was discovered on the outskirts of town, as was natural gas. This discovery made Aztec the first town in the state of New Mexico to use natural gas as fuel. Aztec seemed untouched by the Great Depression, as the bank remained open and the townspeople continued to work the land.

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