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 Chronology of Southwestern US History


Books by Jack Purcell:

Hell Bent For Santa Fe - The Texan Santa Fe Expedition of 1841

The Lost Adams Diggings

Desert Emergency Survival Basics

Poems of the New Old West

Here's the best writer I know:

Read the book that CEOs want you to burn.






This chronology was created on Time Line Maker software, Progeny Software, Inc.,  Some of the events listed are taken from the History of the States downloads available there.

Southwestern US History

Post 1860

Pre-1821  1821-1860

Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, California

Chronology of the Native Americans-Spanish-Mexicans-and Anglos

They wrote the turbulent history of an empty land in blood to make it their own

Feb 1860 3 Attacks against Navajo from Fort Craig New Mexico

mid-1860 Snively, Swilling, Mastin, Birch, Houston and 5 others leave Tucson trekking east to discover gold at Piños Altos and begin the first gold rush in the upper-Gila River country.  This event becomes a major piece of the Lost Adams Diggings legend. Tucson, Mesilla, Piños Altos Snively was the founder of Gila Bend, AZ, and the discoverer of gold there.  Swilling (at this point) was a fugitive from justice in Texas.  All these men were to play a major role in the histories of AZ and NM during the coming years.  Swilling commanded Rebel troops in the only Civil War battle fought west of the Continental Divide, founded Phoenix, and died in Yuma Prison in 1878.  Both are characters in Hell Bent for Santa Fe.
Mar 1860 Navajo general attack on Rio Grande communities New Mexico During the coming 3 years they would raid with increasing frequency, even to the outskirts of Santa Fe.  The tribes along the Rio Grande were worst hit, losing countless lives and 160,000 sheep while the white forces were fighting over the secession matter.  Once the Texans were defeated the Navajo and Apache depredations became the main concern of the California Column in New Mexico.  The tragic end was the removal of the Navajos and Mescalero Apache to Bosque Redondo following the Kit Carson campaign against the Navajos.  This resulted in the near-extermination of the Mescalero by Navajos during the Bosque Redondo exile, quietly ignored by the white overseers.

03 Apr 1860 The Pony Express between California and St. Joseph, Missouri Considering the brief time this service existed it has gotten prime billing as a historical event.

08 May 1860 Fort Breckenridge established Araviapa Cr confluence with San Pedro river The increasing hostilies between Apaches and the US spurred the need for a more active military presence.  Too much, too late in retrospect.

1861 Colorado Territory Established Colorado This timely event was made easier by the secession of the southern states and non-participation in Union decisions.  The Colorado Volunteers played a crucial role the following year when Texas Mounted Rifles invaded along the Rio Grande.

1861 Majority of army officers in New Mexico and Arizona resign to join the Confederacy   Wagon-loads of them came south through Fort Fillmore, Fort Bliss and Fort Davis on their way to San Antonio.  As they encountered groups of enlisted men at these places they cajoled them to leave the ranks and swore they'd soon return wearing gray.  They did.

Jan 1861 American Civil War United States New Mexico was touched by the Civil War. July 26, 1861: In the first Civil War clash in New Mexico, Confederates capture Fort Fillmore near Las Cruces. Lt. Col. John Baylor's Rebels capture 400 Bluecoats fleeing to Fort Stanton. Within a week, Baylor establishes the Confederate Territory of Arizona. The Lost Adams Diggings examines these events in detail.

28 Feb 1861 Territory of Colorado Organized Colorado, Washington, D.C. Congress organizes the Territory of Colorado, and a northern portion of New Mexico from the fertile San Luis Valley to the east is taken. Many longtime New Mexicans become citizens of Colorado.

Mar 1861 Mail Cut Off to Arizona Arizona The United States Government formally revoked the contract of the Butterfield Overland Stagecoach Company, which carried the United States mails on a route from San Antonio, Texas, through El Paso, Texas, Mesilla and Tucson to California. The loss of the Butterfield Stagecoach service virtually severed the region of Arizona from communication with the outside world.

16 Mar 1861 Arizona and southern New Mexico Secede Mesilla A Convention was held for the purpose of considering what should be the future relationship between Arizona and the United States. At this Convention the people of Arizona voted to secede from the Union and to join their future to that of the Confederate States of America. The Tucson Convention ratified the proceedings of the Mesilla Convention, and elected provisional officers for the new Confederate Territory. Dr. Lewis Owings of Mesilla was elected Provisional Governor of the Territory, and Granville Henderson Oury of Tucson was elected as Delegate to the Confederate Congress. The Confederacy was not yet ready to accept new Territories, however, and so Arizona would have to wait again for Territorial status.

18 May 1861 Hicks, Snively and Birch discover gold at Piños Altos Piños Altos, NM The three swore a pact of secrecy between themselves and journeyed to Mesilla to file the claim.  The local gossip mill soon knew all.  The three returned to their claim after dark believing all was well.  They awoke the following morning to the sounds of a boom-town tent-city birthing.  They'd been tracked by to their discovery by several hundred Mesillanos and hangers-on.  The Lost Adams Diggings

Jun 1861 Texas/Confederate Colonel Baylor invades El Paso El Paso, Texas Descriptions and photographs of this HQ in Mesilla in The Lost Adams Diggings

11 Jul 1861 Juarez wins the War of Reform Mexico City  

Aug 1861 Albert Jennings becomes Albert J. Fountain, joins the California Column volunteers in San Francisco San Francisco, CA Prior to 1861 this important figure in NM history certainly went by the name 'Albert Jennings' from 1857 - 1861.  No records exist of his pre-1857 past under either of those names. 

23 Oct 1861 Sibley begins march to New Mexico San Antonio Texas

24 Oct 1861 Telegraph Comes to California    

08 Dec 1861 20000 British, French and Spanish troops land in Vera Cruz Vera Cruz, Mexico Napoleon III of France, Britain, and Spain join forces, taking advantage of the US Civil War, to invade Mexico and install Maximillian Ferdinand as Emperor Maximillian of Mexico.

1862 The Overland Trail The secession of the south and occupation of Tucson by Arizona Scouts from New Mexico and Texas illustrated the need for a more northerly route to the west coast.

1862 The Territorial Enterprise Hires Mark Twain Virginia City  

Jan 1862 90-500 Confederates occupy Tucson under Hunter Tucson This episode is examined in detail in The Lost Adams Diggings

07 Feb 1862 Sibley Brigade offensive begins from Mesilla Mesilla, NM During these early stages the campaign was entirely too easy for the invading Texas troops.  Although Canby had ample time to prepare and every reason to expect this incursion the preoccupation in the eastern states was entirely on the events there.  Sibley was lulled into bypassing Fort Craig when he couldn't lure the Union Regulars outside the fortifications.  After the victory at Valverde this seemed unimportant until the burning of the Texan supply train at Cañoncito.  Suddenly in retreat, the Texans found themselves disorganized, without a supply line and with an intact Union force along their line of retreat.

21 Feb 1862 Battle of Valverde Bloody Valverde Battleground, NM Highest percentage of casualties among the combatants of any battle of the Civil War after Gettysburg. Fought on the Rio Grande a few miles north of Fort Craig.  Colonel John Sutton, one of the primaries of Hell Bent for Santa Fe and a member of the Texan-Santa Fe Expedition of 1841 was killed here.

Mar 1862 Confederate invasion stopped at Glorieta Pass Southeast of Santa Fe, NM Texans took Albuquerque, drove the government out of Santa Fe, headed east toward Fort Union. Met Union forces and Colorado Volunteers at Glorieta Pass. Texans won a decisive victory at Glorieta and would have easily taken Fort Union. However, Colorado volunteers circled behind to to the Confederate supply train at Cañoncito, captured the small guarding force there, and burned the supplies. This forced the Texans to retreat and was the practical end of the Texan campaign.

12 Apr 1862 Swilling captured by Union Troops Pima Villages Swilling's Confederate Arizona Scouts fought in both of the only two Civil War battles west of the Continental Divide

18 Apr 1862 Fort Barrett Established Pima villages Mainly to protect the route from Yuma to Mesilla from Apaches and to act as a staging area in the event Confederate forces in Tucson gave battle.

05 May 1862 Confederate forces under Hunter retreat from Tucson Tucson Outnumbered, out-gunned and his route of supply and retreat on the Rio Grande collapsing left Hunter with no other alternative.

05 May 1862 First French Army defeat at Puebla Puebla, Mexico Although the battle will followed by many defeats the initial victiory is still celebrated in Mexico and Hispanic US as Cinco de Mayo.

Jun 1862 California Column arrives New Mexico California, New Mexico, Arizona The Lost Adams Diggings covers these events in loving detail.

Aug 1862 Carlton takes military command of Department of NM and AZ   California Volunteer Commandant

Aug 1862 Hunter Confederate unit from Tucson arrives Mesilla   Hunter and 11 others, all remaining of Hunter's Tucson force, join Steele's rearguard of Texans

19 Aug 1862 A letter from Baylor to General Herbert   asked for any intelligence on the location of Hunter's Volunteers.

Oct 1862 Walker Party with Conner enters New Mexico from Colorado Santa Fe, NM

1863 Territory of Arizona Created Arizona, Washington New Mexico is partitioned in half. Territory of Arizona is created.

1863 Navajo and Mescalero Apache campaigns   'Kit Carson campaign'

08 Jan 1863 The Transcontinental Railroad

19 Jan 1863 Captain E.D. Shirland leads advance patrol to Fort West location, Fort West Horses stolen, meets group of miners under Joseph Reddeford Walker. The Lost Adams Diggings

24 Jan 1863 Fort West Established    

Feb 1863 Swilling captures Mangus Colorado, turns him over to Shirland. Mangus killed, Piños Altos  

24 Feb 1863 Arizona becomes a Territory Arizona After several bills had been introduced and then failed, President Abraham Lincoln signed into law the bill that provided for the Territory of Arizona, with a boundary separating it from New Mexico at approximately 109° longitude. The first officers of the Territory, appointed by President Lincoln on March 4, 1863, were the following: Governor John A. Gurley; Chief Justice John Noble Goodwin; Secretary Richard C. McCormick; Associate Justices William T. Howell and Joseph P. Allyn; District Attorney Almon Gage; U.S. Marshal Milton B. Duffield; and Superintendent of Indian Affairs Charles Poston.

Mar 1863 Walker Party at Piños Altos    

Apr 1863 Walker Party arrives Tucson Tucson  

Aug 1863 Kit Carson invades Navajo country    

1864 Mescaleros and Navajo moved to Bosque Redondo Bosque Redondo, NM Following the Kit Carson Expedition against the Navajos both tribes were moved off their historic tribal lands to eastern New Mexico.  The frictions between the two tribes during those years at Bosque Redondo almost led to the extinction of the Mescaleros, numbered far fewer than the Navajos.  To save the tribe the Mescaleros finally returned in mass to their original home.  Even today when Navajos complain of size of the 160,000 acre Mescalero Reservation for the 3500 Mescalero population (compared to the per-capita acreage of the Navajo tribal lands) the Mescalero will bitterly reply, "We fought our way down".

12 Jun 1864 Maximillian arrives in Mexico City as Emperor Mexico City  

Aug 1864 Green and scouting party arrives Fort Craig from Gila   6 captives, 19 head of cattle, 3 scouts

Sep 1864 Colonel Rigg leaves Fort Craig   Raids west to White Mountains, returns with 4 captives

31 Oct 1864 Becomes a State California  

29 Nov 1864 Sand Creek Massacre Sand Creek  

28 Feb 1865 Robert S Johnson resigns California Column to lead 250 men to settle in Mexico   The Lost Adams Diggings

09 Apr 1865 The Black Hawk Indian War Manti  

Oct 1865 Camp Grant established Formerly site of Fort Breckenridge  

1866 Charles Goodnight and Oliver Loving trail the first Cattle from Texas to Fort Sumner Fort Sumner, NM, West Texas  

1866 Alamo Band 'Navajo' tribe is formed North of Magdalena The Navajo and Mescalero scouts for Kit Carson during the 1863-1864 campaigns and their families could not be sent to Bosque Redondo for obvious reasons.  Instead they were lumped together as a Navajo band and placed on a temporary reservation north of Magdalena, safe from reprisals from both tribes.  There, unclaimed by both Navajo and Mescalero, they remain today.  Mostly forgotten and certainly disfranchised.

15 Apr 1866 Butch Cassidy Beaver

1867 Prostitutes ejected from 'Star Fort' at Fort Union Fort Union

1867 Reconstruction begins in Texas Post-Confederate Texas Carpetbaggers and Scallywags arrive

02 Apr 1867 Second Battle of Puebla Puebla, Mexico Porfirio Diaz defeats French army

14 May 1867 Maximillian defeated, surrenders at Queretero Queretero, Mexico  

19 Jun 1867 Emperor Ferdinand Max executed Queretero, Mexico Firing squad.  His brother the Hapsburg Emperor, Louis Napoleon of France and the British attempted to intervene to Juarez for clemency.  Probably Juarez would have preferred merely exiling the ex-Emperor, but the atrocities committed by French troops in Mexico during the years of Ferdinand Maximillian's turbulent rule made the measure politically impossible.  Juarez' hold on the bankrupted country was already tenuous and Porfirio Diaz, he suspected, was already planning a rebellion to rob him of the presidency.  The popularity of Diaz soared following his defeat of the French army at Puebla.  Europeans, it was generally believed, needed an object lesson they'd remember to keep them from interfering in Mexico politics in the future.  European leaders of every nationality had been the source of endless suffering in Mexico since the independence from Spain in 1821.

04 May 1868 Camp Crittendon established Site of Fort Buchanan

10 May 1869 Completion of the World's First Transcontinental Railroad Promontory  

16 May 1870 Fort Apache established Fort Apache, AZ  

1871 John Bullard, founder of Silver City killed by Apaches in New Mexico.

Jacob Snively, former Secretary of War for the Republic of Texas, co-founder of Piños Altos, NM, killed by Apaches at Vulture Gulch, AZ

Gila, NM

Vulture Gulch, AZ

Snively fought at the Battle of San Jacinto, served in high appointed positions under three Republic of Texas presidents, accompanied the Texan-Santa Fe Expedition in 1841, and raided commerce on the Santa Fe Trail in 1842.  Snively discovered gold and began the gold rush at Gila Bend, AZ, and was one of the three-man party to discover gold at Piños Altos, NM, and begin the gold rush there.  Snively is the main character in my ebook, Hell Bent for Santa Fe.  He is also identified as the 'Dutchman' or 'German' in The Lost Adams Diggings.

30 Apr 1871 Cushing Massacre Tucson A group of men out of Tucson (many of whom were Papagos and Mexicans, but their leaders were Americans) attacked the peaceful, sleeping Apache camp. About 144 were killed, almost all of them women and children. The event became a cause for national debate. Many citizens in the East were horrified, and even President Ulysses S. Grant denounced it. However, in Arizona few people were sympathetic. A trial was held later that year and all perpetrators were acquitted. One of the principal leaders, Sidney De Long, was later even elected mayor of Tucson. Lieutenant Whitman himself was heartsick. He buried the bodies and did what he could to console the Apaches (most of them returned to Camp Grant a few days later). For Whitman's compassion he was court martialed several times and finally forced out of the army. General George Stoneman, himself, was relieved of his command, and a new officer, General George Crook, took his place.

11 Nov 1871 Rio Mimbres community destroyed by fire Mimbres, NM  

18 Dec 1872 Fort Grant II established Sulphur Spring Creek Vally below Mount Graham  

1873 Joslin Dry Goods Company Opened Denver

1873 Texans invade again Lincoln, Puerto de Luna, Loma Parda 60 armed Texans from the upper Brazos arrived and raided to recover 30000 stolen cattle

1873 Yuma renamed by AZ Legislature Yuma Formerly called, 'the mud-town' of Arizona City

1874 100000 Cattle driven from Roswell to Colorado New Mexico, Colorado  

1875 Brigham Young University Founded Provo

1875 John P. Clum, famous Indian Agent dies Santa Fe  

1876 Billy the Kid Globe City, Arizona It was in Globe that Billy actually ran afoul of the law for a serious offense: stealing horses. Apparently, he also rustled cattle. He was rowdy and often involved in gambling and similar nefarious pursuits. In August 1877 Billy was at Fort Grant. The Kid was tormented in a bar there by another rowdy, by the name of Frank Cahill. The Kid did not take kindly to the razzing, and so he shot and killed Cahill. The Kid was captured and jailed, but he escaped and went to Lincoln County, New Mexico.

01 Aug 1876 Becomes a State    

1877 University of Colorado Opens Boulder

12 Feb 1877 Fort Huachuca established Arizona  

1878 First Santa Fe steam locomotive enters New Mexico Eastern NM  

1878 Jack Swilling recovers the remains of Jacob Snively and reburies them at Gillette, AZ, but is arrested for a stagecoach robbery during his absence.  Swilling dies in Yuma Prison Yuma Prison Swilling designed and constructed the first irrigation canals for the town he co-founded, Phoenix, AZ, in 1867. 

 Posthumously found innocent of all connection with a stagecoach robbery he was accused of.  The robbery occurred while Swilling was recovering the remains of Jacob Snively, killed by Apaches in 1871, for reburial at Gillette, AZ.

1878 Victorio Apache Uprising Ojo Caliente

1878 Lincoln County War Lincoln County, NM The trouble in Lincoln County had its origins in the aftermath of the Civil War. A man named Lawrence G. Murphy served with the New Mexico Volunteers. After the war he opened a store in Lincoln. He soon controlled the economic life of the county. Ill health caused him to have to sell off his businesses in 1876 to James Dolan and John H. Riley. These men wanted to control the economic life of Lincoln just as Murphy had. They would lead one of the two groups that fought in the Lincoln County War. On the other side were newcomers to the area. Their leader was Alexander A. McSween. McSween arrived in Lincoln in 1875. A lawyer, he was soon handling lawsuits, most of them against Murphy. Eventually, the confict turned bloody. Sympathizers for both sides got involved and the killing escalted. It ended with the killing of Billy the Kid.

Apr 1878 Three black Buffalo Soldiers shot to death in Cimarron Saloon Cimarron St James Hotel Bar killed by the nephew of Davy Crockett and Gus Hefferan

1879 Raton tunnel completed Raton NM, Trinidad, Colo  

1880 First tuberculosis clinics in New Mexico New Mexico  

26 Oct 1881 O.K. Corral Fracas Tombstone, AZ Earps and Doc Holiday confront the Clantons et al in a legendary gunfight

1882 Chinese Exclusion Act

Jan 1883 Entire Dona Ana cow herd run off by rustlers Dona Ana, NM  

Oct 1884 Sam Eckstein's saloon 'blown sky high' Silver City Fire engine wasn't working

1890 Discovery of Gold in Cripple Creek Cripple Creek

1893 The Silver Crash of 1893 This was caused by the US Government decision to change the 'silver standard' for US currency.  The effects were devastating on the southwestern states and territories where silver was mined.

Feb2 1896 Colonel Albert J. Fountain and his 8 year old son, Henry ambushed and murdered east of Las Cruces Near Chalk Hill, NM These were the times when New Mexicans were killing one another over political party affiliations.  Fountain and his son might have been murdered by Democrats, cow-rustlers, or a combination of the two.  Pat Garrett was brought out of retirement in Uvalde, Texas, to assist the investigation.

1896 First Female United States Senator


1900 Gold Production Peaks Cripple Creek

1901 Pacific Electric Railway System

1901 Arizona Rangers   Governor Murphy authorized the formation of the Arizona Rangers. Until 1909 when the group was disbanded, the Rangers helped track down and arrest cattle rustlers and worked to suppress striking miners. In 1909, the legislature voted not to continue the Arizona Rangers because those counties not disturbed by the outlaws or striking miners did not want to pay for services they did not need.

11 Apr 1901 The Daughters of Utah Pioneers

18 Apr 1906 San Francisco Earthquake and Fire San Francisco

 Apr 1908 Pat Garrett murdered Near Las Cruces

Still investigating the Albert Fountain homicides, he was shot in the back and left beside the road.

06 Jan 1912 Arizona and New Mexico Statehood Washington, NM Despite the myriad racial, religious, political, and economic issues which delayed every attempt at statehood, New Mexico's efforts never ceased. Finally, on June 20, 1910, President William H. Taft signed an Enabling Act which authorized the territory to call a constitutional convention in preparation for being admitted as a state. On October 3 of that year, one hundred delegates elected from every county in the territory, convened at Santa Fe and drafted a constitution which was approved by voters on January 21, 1911. New Mexico had taken the final step in its long journey towards becoming a full part of the United States of America. A delegation from New Mexico was present in Washington, D.C. when President Taft signed the proclamation admitting New Mexico as the 47th state. After signing the long awaited document at I :35 P.M., January 6,1912, the President turned to the delegation and said, "Well, it is all over. I am glad to give you life. I hope you will be healthy."




Pancho Villa raids Columbus, NM


Hidalgo County formed

Columbus, NM



Villa occupied the town for 3 days, destroyed the military compound and much of the town of Columbus.  This led to the Pershing invasion of Mexico and the fighting between Villistas and US troops in Ciudad Juarez.  The artillery exchanges were viewed from rooftops by residents of El Paso.  The first aircraft used in warfare were introduced during this campaign.

1921 Catron and Harding Counties formed Southwestern NM

1926 First Burning of Zozobra, Santa Fe Fiesta Santa Fe, NM A Sertoma innovation

12 Feb 1929 First Rio Grande Compact (water) Santa Fe Colorado, Texas and New Mexico signed the first Rio Grande Compact in Santa Fe. It placed five-year moratorium on water projects until water could be measured for apportionment. The demands for water in all the southwestern US and northern Mexico along the Rio Grande River were becoming a major issue.  They remain a problem.

18 Feb 1930 Pluto Discovered Las Cruces, NM New Mexico State University professor Clyde W. Tombaugh discovers the planet of Pluto.

17 Sep 1930 Construction of the Hoover Dam Las Vegas  

1933 Civilian Conservation Corps One of the earliest attempts by the Roosevelt administration to reduce the distress caused by the Great Depression of 1929

1938 First wild rodent bubonic plague documented in New Mexico NM  

1942 Internment of the Japanese California, Nevada, Utah, Arizona This continued even while the 442nd, composed entirely of men of Japanese ancestry fought bravely in the European Theatre.  The families of many of these men were in concentration camps in the US while they struggled in Italy and western Europe.

1942 POW Camps Lordsburg, Roswell, Portales Italians and Germans. 

1942 The Granada Relocation Camp Amache

Apr 1942 Internment Camps in Arizona for several generations of US citizens of Japanese ancestry as a result of the war in the Pacific.   One of the two camps located in Arizona was Colorado River Relocation Center (April 1942-March 1946), on Colorado Indian lands near Poston, 12 miles southwest of Parker in La Paz (formerly part of Yuma) County, that had a peak population of about 18,000. The other was constructed at Rivers, on leased Pima-Maricopa Indian lands in west central Pinal County, and was known as the Gila River Relocation Center (May 1942-February 1946) with a population of about 13,000. These interned citizens represented a broad spectrum of the Japanese community in America at the time including Issei, the elders who arrived in the early 1900s, the Nisei, the second generation born in America, and the Kibei, also second generation born here but educated in Japan.

24 Jan 1945 New Mexicans Liberated Philippines Camp O'Donnell (Philippines) is liberated from Japan by U.S. troops. Many New Mexicans with the 200th and 515th coastal artillery units are discovered, having survived the Bataan Death March and several years of captivity. — Camp Cabanatuan is liberated 6 days later.

16 Jul 1945 World's First Atomic Bomb Detonated on the US.  Only a few farms, ranches and migratory birds received unintended radiation fallout. Between San Antonio, New Mexico and Carrizoso, NM The world's first Atomic Bomb was detonated on the White Sands Testing Range near Socorro a few miles east of Bosque Del Apache Wildlife Refuge.  North of the impact point a small placard marks the area known as Trinity Site. The bomb was designed and manufactured in Los Alamos for the purpose of dropping on the Japanese population.

1949 First human Bubonic plague reported in NM NM

1949 Los Alamos County formed Los Alamos The unique character of Los Alamos community of physicists and nuclear weapons scientists and the concomitant National Security funding concerns called for the political separation from surrounding counties.

1955 Last human reported case of Rabies in NM NM  

18 May 1956 The Fremont Hotel Opens Fremont  

1967 New Buffalo Commune formed Lincoln Co., NM

1974 First Asian-American Female Secretary of State    

1976 First African-American Elected to Utah State Legislature Ogden  

1977 New Mexico ranked 5th in the US in suicides NM  

08 Jun 1978 LDS Church Allows Black Priests    

1981 Cibola County formed Grants, NM

1982 Alcoholism rate in NM ranked 37 times the national average New Mexico  


Pre-1821   1821-1860

Created with TimeLine Maker on 11 Aug 2003



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