Blackwater Draw Museums

Blackwater Draw

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

Blackwater-Draw-MuseumENMU 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
Phone: 575-562-2202
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

BWD_Site_1In 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
Phone: 575-356-5235
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.


Mesalands Community College’s Dinosaur Museum and Natural Science Laboratory

Mesalands Community College’s Dinosaur Museum opened in the spring of 2000. The museum is designed around the region’s rich heritage as one of the earth’s premier deposits of fossilized ancient life. At the opening the College began the only associate of Arts degree in Palaeontology in the United States and they also opened their foundry to making bronze casts of dinosaur skeletons. The museum holds the world’s largest collection of bronze skeletons, fossils and replicas of prehistoric creatures.

The museum is located in a building that was once a grocery store. The main exhibit hall houses replicated and original fossils, from tiny footprint casts to a 40-foot-long skeleton of a Torvosaurus, a rare carnivore that is related to Tyrannosaurus rex. Recently, the museum  has received donations to augment their collection – most recently, they received a collection of minerals and fossils from Howard Shanks.  A spacious, well-equipped paleontology/geology laboratory (with a large storage area for collections not on exhibit but available for study), a classroom and offices are also located the museum. A large observation window in the laboratory allows visitors to observe students and staff preparing specimens.

Since 2005, its students have discovered four new dinosaur species within 23 miles of Tucumcari; you can see these displayed at the museum. Every summer, one-week field courses are offered to the public (these can be customized for special-interest groups). School tours can be scheduled throughout the year. There is also a children’s area, “Kid’s Digs,” where Bootz, the rodeo dinosaur, lives and can be ridden as part of the children’s play.

The museum’s gift shop sells scientific and educational books, rocks and minerals, fossils, clothing, games, teaching aids, gift items and souvenirs and more.


Address: 222 East Laughlin Street, Tucumcari, NM 88401
Phone: 575-461-3466
Hours: Winter (Labor Day through February): Tuesday through Saturday, 12:00 pm to 5:00 p.m. Summer (March through Labor Day): Tuesday through Saturday, 10:00 am – 6:00 pm (Closed Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day.)
Admission: Adults, $6.50. Children 5 to 11, $4.00. Children under 5, free. Seniors 65 and over, $5.50.

Museums on the Eastern New Mexico University Campus

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

roosevelt_outsideFounded 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).
Phone: 575-562-2592
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.

Miles-Min--1The 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
Phone: 575-562-2706
Hours: Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Saturday by appointment.
Admission: Free


The New Mexico Mining Museum

Grants began as a railroad camp in the 1880s, when three Canadian brothers won a contract to build a section of the new Atlantic and Pacific Railroad. The Grant brothers’ camp was first called Grants Camp, then Grants Station and finally Grants. The town prospered because of logging in the nearby Zuni Mountains: Timber from the mountains was shipped to Albuquerque, where it was milled and sold throughout the west.

After the decline of logging in the 1930s, Grants gained fame as the U.S. “carrot capital.” The creation of nearby Bluewater Reservoir, along with the area’s volcanic soils, provided ideal conditions for farming. Grants also benefited from its location on U.S. Route 66, which brought tourists – and the businesses that catered to them.

In 1950, Patricio (Paddy) Martinez, a Navajo shepherd and prospector, discovered uranium ore near Haystack Mesa. He sparked a mining boom that lasted until the 1980s. Uranium was an important commodity because of its nuclear properties. It is the only naturally occurring isotope that can be converted into plutonium in a nuclear reactor. Plutonium is used to power nuclear reactors to generate electricity – and also in nuclear weapons. The rapid growth of defense efforts during the Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union meant heightened demand for uranium during the 1950s and 60s. The collapse of mining by the early 1980s drove the town into a depression, but it has enjoyed a resurgence based on tourism and the area’s scenic beauty. Recent interest in nuclear power has revived the possibility of more uranium mining in the area, and energy companies still own viable mining properties and claims.

New Mexico Mining Museum - Grants

The New Mexico Mining Museum says it is the world’s only museum devoted to uranium mining. The museum is housed in the Grants Chamber of Commerce. UpstaNew Mexico Mining Museum - mining machineryirs you can view a collection of world minerals, ancient artifacts and an historical survey of Grants and Cibola County. An elevator takes you down to the underground mine exhibit. Former miners helped build the exhibit, which includes mining galleries, equipment, ore cars, a lunchroom and tunnels. Miners’ recorded voices talk about their lives underground and the effects of uranium mining.

Address: 100 North Iron Avenue, Grants, New Mexico
Phone:    505-287-4802 or 800-748-2142
Hours:  9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Saturday. Closed Sundays and holidays.
Admission: Children Ages 0-6 FREE, Ages 7-18 $2.00, Ages 19-59 $3.00, Senior $2.00

Nearby, takes some time to visit El Malpais National Monument. The Northwest New Mexico Visitor Center is located in Grants and is a jumping off point for hiking, caving, and exploring the lava country of Northwestern New Mexico.

Folsom Museum

Folsom MuseumThe Folsom Museum is housed in the old Doherty General Store and tells the region’s more recent Wild West history, including the story of Black Jack Ketchum, a notorious train robber, who was captured near Folsom and hung in 1901. Many of the exhibits are shown in the store’s original fixtures. The museum also has an exhibit of the Dolph Law Office from nearby Clayton; the office was moved anFrances Folsom Cleveland, wife of President Grover Cleveland. d reconstructed within the museum. The town of Folsom was named in honor of the wife of Grover Cleveland, Frances Folsom, even though she had no connection to the area. The museum has displays on the Folsom Points and bones from the nearby Folsom Man archaeological site.

The area is home to one of the most important archaeological sites in North America. After a disastrous flood in 1908, a black cowboy named George McJunkin discovered a cache of fossilized bison bones in a freshly cut arroyo. McJunkin realized the bones were not those of modern bison (they were at least 50 percent larger). McJunkin’s find was not investigated until four years after his death, but the discovery pushed the presence of man in North America back by at least 5,000 years to 12,000 years before present day. Archaeologists eventually found 32 bison skeletons and 26 spear points. These are know called “Folsom Points.” (Little is known about their makers, who have been dubbed “Folsom Man.”) Folsom Points are generally 3 to 5 inches long. They have a unique long flute on each side.

Address: 100 Main Street (at the junction of Highways 325 and 456), Folsom, NM 88419
Phone: 575-278-2122
Hours: Memorial Day to Labor Day weekend: Daily, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Weekends in May and September, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Rest of year: By   appointment.
Admission: Adults, $1.50. Children ages 6 to 12, $.50. Children under age 6, free.


Nearby visit Capulin Volcano National Monument. The entire area from Raton to Clayton was an active volcanic field and you can learn more about this activity at the National Monument. You can travel to the top of the volcano and hike around the rim. The views are spectacular. The visitor center has displays about the volcanos and the history of the area.