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The Spanish first settled Saltillo in 1577, making it the northeast’s oldest town. In 1591 the Spanish brought native Tlaxcalans from near Mexico City to help stabilize the area, and they set up a colony alongside the Spanish one.

In the late 17th century, Saltillo was the capital of an area that included Coahuila, Nuevo León, Tamaulipas and Texas. The city was occupied by US troops under Zachary Taylor during the Mexican-American War in 1846. The next year, at Buena Vista, south of Saltillo, the 15, 000-strong army of General Santa Anna was repulsed by Taylor’s 5000-man force in the war’s decisive battle for control of the northeast.

During the Porfiriato period, agriculture and ranching prospered in the area, and the coming of the railway brought industry to the city, but Monterrey overtook Saltillo in both size and importance.