Chaves County Guide
Last updated on Sunday, January 12, 2003
Nestled in a valley that is the only oasis for 75 to 100 miles in the desert prairie of New Mexico, Roswell is a bustling community of about 50,000 people. During the famed UFO Festival it grows to about 60,000 to 70,000. Its main street, appropriately named "Main Street," becomes U.S. Highway 285 heading north and south. Its second main street (named what else? "Second Street") becomes U.S. Highway 70, leading east and west. The two highways intersect smack-dab in the middle of town so you can truly "get there from here." According to the UFO experts, you can touch down at Roswell, even if you are from a little further out, say Alpha Centauri for instance.
In 1937, some very farsighted conservationists realized the need to protect the nation's remaining wetlands. The Bitter Lake Wildlife Refuge was one of those acquired during that period under the Department of the Interior and the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Strategically located on the Great Plains of the Southwest, it is near the Pecos River east of Roswell. The water of the shallow lake is very brackish, too bitter to drink, and was so named by early cattlemen. It is fed year round by small springs but often goes dry during the hot summer months.
The lakes are bottomless in name only. None is more than ninety feet deep, but the illusion of great depth and the greenish blue color is created by algae and other aquatic plants covering the lake bottoms. In actuality, they are sink holes rather than lakes and range in depth from 17 to 90 feet. They were formed when circulating underground water dissolved salt and gypsum deposits to form subterranean caverns. Ultimately, the roofs of the caverns collapsed from their own weight to form the sink holes that soon filled with water. They are all quite small and only Lea Lake is large enough to support swimming and other water recreational activities. It is on the south end of the group, where the day use and camping areas are located.
Cheese is a beloved food around the world. As New Mexico is often associated with cacti and desert, many people do not realize the Land of Enchantment is the fastest growing dairy state in the nation. In Roswell, Leprino Foods has the world"s largest mozzarella cheese factory.
Seven miles south of Roswell, New Mexico Highway Two connects with U. S. Highway 285. At the end of 33 miles it reconnects with 285. Three small towns are spread along this route: Dexter, Hagerman and Lake Arthur. Greenfield must once have been a town too, but now it is only a dot on the map.
ENMU-Roswell is a comprehensive community college serving students in Roswell and beyond. Our students say Yes to success!
The modern, compact campus is the perfect setting for student success. Buildings are within easy walking distance and furnish students with both educational resources and quiet study areas. All buildings provide barrier-free access to individuals with disabilities.
Space of all kinds surround Roswell. Wide open spaces, Robert H. Goddard's space experiments, and the crash of a UFO. Has the beginning of space exploration here been overshadowed with all the hype of the UFO crash in 1947? Probably. At the Houston Space Center and Cape Canaveral and Kennedy Space Center, Robert Hutchings Goddard is known as the Father of Space Exploration.
Now in its 38th year, the Roswell Symphony Orchestra's 60 members come from all the major cities within a 200-mile radius of Roswell: Lubbock, Amarillo, Santa Fe, Albuquerque, Las Cruces, El Paso, Portales, Alamogordo, the states of Texas and Colorado, and, of course, Roswell.
I grew up (more or less) in Roswell. More or less? Well, my family moved often until I hit my teens. We always managed to bounce back to Roswell for a while before we set out again searching for that elusive rainbow my father chased all his life.
The above other-worldly tag was superimposed on Roswell with the 50th Anniversary of the Roswell Incident in July of 1997. But there's so much more.
Roswell is the seat of Chaves County, population 58,000, and the fourth largest city in the state; its population is 48,500 and its elevation is 3,649 on average. The city lies at the west edge of the Llano Estacado (Staked Plains) and east of El Capitan Mountain, in the rich and fertile Pecos Valley, a place of relaxed pace and friendly people.
Roswell is becoming known for its interesting Downtown Historic District. The District was created by the Historical Society for Southeast New Mexico with the aid of a grant from the State Historic Preservation Division in 1983-84. It was named tothe State and National Registers of Historic Places in 1985, along with the campus of New Mexico Military Institute, several outlying ranches, and Chihuahuita, probably the oldest settlement in the Roswell area. Chihuahuita was named only to the State Register.
A sequence of events can occur in the most unexpected
ways. An article titled “Folklore of Lincoln County Post Offices” brought an
e-mail from two sisters in Indiana who were working on their family geneology.
The thread that wove New Mexico and Indiana together was that their great
grandmother had been one of the postmasters of Lincoln County in the early
Although family oral history isn’t always totally
reliable, Judith P. Hamilton and Kathy Anderson Goins thought their great
grandmother had been postmaster (no gender quarrel in those days) in the late
1800s. However, Jim White of Farmington, NM, considered the state historian of
post offices, found that Frances Baca Walters, born in 1855, became postmaster
on November 16, 1901.
Why retire in Roswell? Let me count the reasons. Lots of sunshine all through the year with little humidity. Lots of sunshine all through the year with little humidity. Light snowfalls once or twice during the winter, except when Mother Nature throws us a curve as in December of 1997, probably referred to in the future as the Winter of 97. Affordable housing from starter houses to top-of-the-line. Many people have retired here from California. After selling their homes there and buying here they have money left on which to live.