Santa Fe residents in the late 1800s rode burros and horses to the foothills of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains to work and gather firewood.

Many workers, soldiers and merchants would tie their animals to posts on the bustling Plaza, the city’s center, and sometimes let them roam free — until nine well-to-do women decided to put some order to this chaos.

The women formed the Benevolent Association — now known as the Santa Fe Woman’s Club and Library Association — in 1892 with a goal of improving the Plaza and establishing a library. Their mission later would expand to helping fulfill other community needs, such as providing milk and food to those in need, establishing the state’s public health department and initiating Santa Fe’s 911 system.

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