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Sam Steel Way Dedication Set for May 4 in Las Cruces

LAS CRUCES -- More than 100 years ago, the university community mourned the untimely death of Samuel Steel, the son of a prominent Mesilla Valley family. Steel would have been the first graduate of New Mexico A&M, now New Mexico State University.


On May 4, today's university community -- faculty, friends and alumni -- will honor Steel's short but celebrated life with the dedication of Sam Steel Way, the newly named street along the campus' southern boundary. The street was formerly known as the Frontage Road for Interstate 10.

Steel, who was just 17 when he died in 1893, will be represented at the dedication by a riderless horse during a commemoration walk to Sam Steel Way, following a 10 a.m. welcome at Aggie Pond near Gerald Thomas Hall on campus. A ribbon-cutting ceremony will take place at the street. Participants then will walk to Preciado Park for a barbecue lunch. Those unable to walk can ride on an open-air trolley.

Dignitaries on hand at the event will include Las Cruces Mayor Pro Tem Jack Valencia and Pete Rahn, secretary of the New Mexico Highway and Transportation Department.

Besides the new street, Steel is the namesake for a society of alumni and friends of NMSU's College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences . At the end of each semester, college graduates are inducted into the society.

When laid to rest, Steel was lauded by New Mexico A&M President Hiram Hadley. "It is rather more than 40 years since I consecrated my life to the work of education. In that period I have had under my care many brilliant youths, a large number of whom now fill exalted positions in their chosen callings, but taken all in all, I have never known the superior, if the equal, of Samuel Steel," Hadley said.

As Steel entered his senior year in the fall of 1892, he was joined by just six juniors, seven sophomores and 23 freshmen.