The pass is the primary route between Alamogordo and Las Cruces. Anyone traveling the pass may notice that the historical marker reads SAN AUGUSTIN PASS, while many other area signs read SAN AGUSTIN PASS. San Agustin is the Spanish translation for Saint Augustine, the namesake of the pass.
There are references in history of the gap being used by the Spanish and Natives to the area as far back as the 1500's. The pass in its current form has been utilized since the area grew in population in the mid-1800's. It was then, and still is today, the primary route between Las Cruces / Mesilla and Lincoln County, a prominent and important area in the 1800's.
If you're ever in the area, I recommend a drive to the top, it's the best view in the area, hands down. At 5,710 feet, it's not the highest point in the New Mexico highway system (the highest point is in northern New Mexico, and is almost twice as high), but it does stand nearly 2,000 feet above the valley floor, making the views quite impressive.
Here are the pages I referred to trying to find more history on the pass (it wasn't easy, there's not much out there):
- Southern New Mexico Regional History
- The History of Las Cruces: Soldiers, Rancher, and Outlaws: Includes references to the pass in the 1800's.
- San Augustin Mountain on Wikipedia
- San Augustin Pass listed on my custom historical marker map