If a picture is worth a thousand words, then this snapshot of Carlsbad, New Mexico, will reveal things you may not know about the city anchoring the southeast corner of the state that many people visit to experience Carlsbad Caverns National Park. Your immediate attention may be drawn to the Pecos River. For more than 150 years, it has been sustaining agriculture and ranching and is the source of many recreational activities.
Pecos River — The only one that crosses itself
The Pecos is the only river to ever cross itself. How’s that possible? In 1890, ranchers and farmers constructed a flume out of wood across the river to move water above a high embankment to irrigate the land. Storms blew the flume away so many times, in 1903 it was rebuilt in concrete. At the time, it was the largest concrete structure in the world and even made Ripley’s Believe It or Not.
Alkali river water reveals underlying wealth
But the water in the Pecos is alkali, but not so much you can’t drink it or use it for irrigation. For most of its 900-mile flow from the foothills of the Sangre de Cristo mountains east of Santa Fe until it merges with the Rio Grande, it’s narrow, shallow, and salty. The salts come from the sediment of the Permian Sea that once covered this part of the world.
First Potash mined in North America
Among those salts is potassium, in the form of potash. In 1925, when prospectors discovered it in Eddy County, it became the first potash found in North America. Potash contributed greatly to the growth of the fertilizer industry and also Carlsbad’s agriculture, and it was a strong contributor to the economy until the 1960s, although mining continues to this day. Over the decades, Carlsbad has also been supported by oil and natural gas production, nuclear materials management, manufacturing, tourism, and agriculture.
From Eddy to Carlsbad
The city was founded by cattleman Charles Eddy in 1888, and he changed its name to Carlsbad in 1899, principally because he had discovered mineral springs with the same medicinal properties as those of the famous European spa, Karlsbad, in Bohemia — now part of the Czech Republic. The spa added to the community’s allure, which was large enough to become a city in 1918.
Called the “Jewel of the Pecos,” Carlsbad may claim to be a small city, but it ranks 10th in population in New Mexico — not bad, considering there are 500 incorporated cities in the state.
Remote — Or just off the beaten track
While the largest major city is El Paso, Texas, 140 miles west, travelers can fly scheduled air routes from Carlsbad to Albuquerque and Dallas-Fort Worth (as of November 2023, flights will go to Phoenix instead of Dallas-Fort Worth) to connect to their desired destination.
Is Carlsbad the place to retire?
Drawing millions to the world-famous caverns, Carlsbad is a popular place to visit, but would you ever want to retire here? Many have. More than 15 percent of Carlsbad’s population is over the age of 65.
If you prefer a small to mid-sized college town to a large metropolis, you’ll find an active retirement community. There are two senior centers, volunteer opportunities, and an abundance of outdoor activities, including golf, hiking, fishing, skiing, water sports, and others. Explore Southeast New Mexico College in Carlsbad for your continuing education interests.
Weather is never an issue
Despite the desert label, Carlsbad enjoys four distinct seasons, albeit without snow (usually!), sub-zero cold, or torrential rains. The climate is mild year-round with nearly 350 days of sunshine. While anytime is a good time, weather-wise, to visit Carlsbad, the most perfect times are mid-April to early June (before summer heat sets in) and late September to Thanksgiving.
If you’re here just to see the city, come and enjoy. Learn more about this exciting community here.
The more you learn about Carlsbad — things you didn’t know — the more you’ll want to explore the city and even consider putting down roots.
Story by Bud Russo • Courtesy photos
This story sponsored by the CITY OF CARLSBAD
Posted by LasCruces.com