The Lea County Museum was created by the Lovington Women’s Club in 1969. That’s when the club purchased the Commercial Hotel, which was about to be razed. The Commercial Hotel was built in 1918 by a group of Lovington ranchers and businessmen. Since 1969, the Museum has acquired several more buildings — some, like the Baker School building were moved to their site. And others, are commercial buildings put to new use, like the Lister Building across the street from the Hotel. Continue reading
Blackwater Draw is a dry stream channel more than 85 miles long. The Black Water Draw Locality No. 1, a few miles outside of Portales, is one of the most significant and important Paleoindian archaeological sites in the Americas. The importance of Blackwater Draw was first recognized in 1929 by Ridgely Whiteman of Clovis, New Mexico. Early investigations at Blackwater Draw found evidence of early human occupation during the Late Pleistocene. This was when the Columbian mammoth, camel, horse, bison, sabertooth cat and the dire wolf roamed the region.
Blackwater Draw Museum
ENMU owns and operates the Blackwater Draw Museum which opened to the public in 1969. The museum’s artifacts and displays illustrate life at the Blackwater Draw site during the Clovis period (more than 13,000 years ago) through the recent historic period.
Address: 42987 Highway 70, Portales, New Mexico 88130
Hours: Summer (Memorial Day through Labor Day): Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, noon to 5 p.m. Rest of the year: Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, noon to 5 p.m. The museum may be closed during major holidays.
Admission: Adults: $3. Seniors (age 60 plus): $2. Children under 16: $1. Children under 5: Free. The fourth Sunday of each month is a free day. Includes admission to the Blackwater Draw Site.
The Blackwater Draw Locality No. 1 Site
In addition to many early mammal species like mammoths and bisons, “fluted” points, spearheads, known as Clovis points, along with other stone and bone weapons and tools have been found at the site – some within the fossilized mammoth and bison bones. Since its discovery, the Blackwater Locality No. 1 Site (also known as the Clovis Site) has been a focal point for scientific investigations by academics and organizations across the nation. The Carnegie Institute, Smithsonian Institution, Academy of Natural Sciences, National Science Foundation, United States National Museum, National Geographic Society and more than a dozen major universities either have funded or participated in research at Blackwater Draw. Due to its tremendous long-term potential for additional research and to public interest, the site was incorporated into the National Register of Historic Places in 1982. More recently, it was declared a National Historic Landmark. There is a small visitor center at the site with exhibits and you can take a self-guided walk around to see the site that will take a few hours.
Address: 508 New Mexico 467, Portales, NM 88130
Blog: The Clovis Site
Site hours: Summer (Memorial Day through Labor Day): Every day from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. April, May, September, and October: Weekends only, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. September and October, weekends only, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Closed November through March.
The Western Heritage Museum focuses on the history of Lea County and the neighboring area in northwestern Texas. It is a region where cowboys and oil-and-gas industry workers meet and mix. The museum includes exhibits showing life on the Llano Estacado from prehistoric times to the present. There is archaeology, ranching, cowboys, buffalo soldiers, and exhibits about the oil-and-gas industry. A restored Eclipse windmill recalls a time when windmills were used on ranches throughout the area.
The Lea County Cowboy Hall of Fame was founded in 1978. It features the many rodeo world champions who come from Lea County (more champions come from Lea County than any other county in the United States). In addition to memorials, many artifacts reflect aspects of the rodeo and cowboy life.
Address: 1 Thunderbird Circle, Hobbs, NM 88240
Hours: Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Sunday, 1 to 5 p.m., Monday by appointment only
Admission: Adults, $3; seniors 65 and older, $2; students $2, children 5 and under, free.
Portales, the county seat for Roosevelt County, was founded in 1898 as a construction camp for railroad workers. The area was already a ranching center that grew up because of the presence of local fresh water springs. Today, the area is known for Valencia peanuts and dairy production. In 1934, Portales was chosen as the site for a normal school for the eastern part of the state. Eastern New Mexico University has grown to the third largest institution of higher education in the state. There are many small museums located in and around Portales.
ENMU campus, itself, provides a home for four museums, and also has an art gallery, Runnels Gallery, and the Jack Williamson Science Fiction Library both located in the campus library.
Roosevelt County Museum
Founded in 1940, the Roosevelt County Museum is located on northern end of the ENMU campus. The museum documents the rich material culture of Roosevelt County – there is clothing, antique furniture, equipment from local ranches including a peanut roaster from the 1890s, examples of changing technology such as an Edison phonograph, old typewriters, and a dentist’s office. Of particular interest, the museum also owns one of the few examples of a 47-star United States flag.
Address: ENMU campus, near Highway 70 (which is also West 2nd Street).
Hours: Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, 1 to 4 p.m. Weekend hours vary during summer months.
Admission: Donations appreciated.
Natural History Museum
Miles Anthropology Museum
Miles Mineral Museum
The Natural History Museum and the Miles Mineral Museum are located in adjacent rooms in ENMU’s Roosevelt Hall.
The Natural History Museum features live animals, as well as study skins and mounted specimens from eastern New Mexico and west Texas, with an emphasis on the natural history of the Llano Estacado, the name for the geographic region. There is a systematic research collection shows region’s flora and fauna. The Natural History Museum is part of the University’s biology department.
The Miles Mineral Museum features the mineral collection of Fred and Gladys Miles, who began collecting mineral and fossil specimens along the Pecos River after they moved to Roswell, New Mexico, in 1928. They collected archaeological and anthropological specimens, along with quartz crystals called Pecos Valley Diamonds. For several decades, Mr. Miles displayed his collection in the back room of his Texaco service station on Second Street in Roswell. ENMU purchased the Miles collection in 1966, which included about 2,500 geological, archaeological and anthropological specimens and opened the Miles Mineral Museum in 1969. It now includes additional specimens that have been donated or purchased.
The Miles Anthropology Museum is also located in Roosevelt Hall in a space that was once the first Dining Hall on the campus. The museum is home to various anthropological and archeological specimens collected by Fred and Gladys Miles and to other collections from digs in the region. This museum has irregular hours depending upon the school schedule.
Location: Roosevelt Hall, Eastern New Mexico University, Portales, NM 88130
Hours: Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Saturday by appointment.
Tucumcari was originally a railroad construction camp, called Ragtown, for the Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railroad. The town name was changed to Tucumcari in 1908 – taking the name of Tucumcari Mountain, a regional landmark. It became a ranching center because of the railroad lines coming into the town. When the famous Route 66 was built, Tucumcari became famous as a stopping point largely because of their billboard advertisements that proclaimed, “Tucumcari Tonight.” The building of the Interstate System and I40 has caused the decline in tourism as it is easy to whiz past Tucumcari on the highway. It is worth a stop.
The Tucumcari Historical Museum and Research Center is housed in a three-story brick building dating from 1903 that originally served as the town’s first public school. The museum and research center occupy an entire city block with several buildings and various vehicles. The grounds are landscaped with native plants, and you will find many vehicles, including a caboose, a F100 Vietnam-era jet, a chuck wagon, a doctor’s buggy, and an adobe horno where bread is baked twice a year.
The museum is chock-a-block with artifacts from all over Quay County, including rocks, fossils, and archaeological finds, ranching and farm items, an old moonshine still, and an iron lung. There is also an exhibit about Route 66 and its Tucumcari/Quay County history.
Address: 416 South Adams Street, Tucumcari, NM 88401
Hours: Tuesday through Saturday, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Admission: Adults, $2.50; children 6 to 15, $0.75.
New Mexico Route 66 Museum
Tucumcari is also home to an emerging museum devoted to Route 66 and its history and association with Tucumcari and New Mexico. The Museum is located in the back of the parking lot for the Tucumcari Convention Center. The exhibits include vintage cars, gas pumps, neon signs, and photographs.