ONE HUNDRED YEARS AGO, the goals of the New Mexico Highway Journal were rather simple. In July 1923, that 16-page debut issue of what was to become New Mexico Magazine aspired to present some of the achievements, difficulties, and hopes of the highway department while advocating for the “need, construction, cost and maintenance of good roads” and promoting “the attractions of New Mexico as a national playground.” The public was encouraged to submit articles, “accompanied if possible by pictures,” and ask “reasonable questions” that editors would answer. There would also be a folded map at the back “containing much useful and valuable information.”

And yet, those early ideals set forth by editor R.W. Bennett and the highway department feel wildly ambitious and wholly inspirational, too. New Mexico had achieved statehood only 11 years earlier, and car ownership was just starting to take hold.

Maybe that’s why it feels so humbling to be a part of that legacy and advance those values. New Mexico and its people are special. You can feel it while looking back through the 10 decades of this publication. (That’s something you can also experience at the New Mexico History Museum’s current Enchantorama exhibition, which celebrates the magazine’s centennial.)

100 years of New Mexico Magazine covers.

It’s evident, too, in this month’s anniversary feature, in which writers, artists, scholars, ranchers, chefs, and everyday New Mexicans share their perspectives on “Why We Love New Mexico."

Given our roots as a publication, it’s fitting that Lesley Poling-Kempes, who started her career as a New Mexico Magazine intern in 1976, opens it with a paean to dirt roads. “Leaning out the car window, I took in this new world one slow, jostling quarter mile at a time,” she writes. “The deeper we moved into that light- and time-carved land, the more I sensed I was coming home to a place where this country’s stories, known and unknown, became personal, became my story.”

Her essay harmonizes with many other voices in expressing a deep, even primal connection with this place, with things we can touch and others that touch us in turn. And while the reasons we have for loving New Mexico—far too many to count—are as diverse as we are, they connect us all in rich and meaningful ways. Thank you for being a part of this journey, and here’s to the next 100 years.

Read more: For this author and historian, New Mexico’s back roads always lead to untold rewards.