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Roswell, New Mexico

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Roswell, New Mexico

Roswell, New Mexico
Main Street in downtown Roswell
Main Street in downtown Roswell
Flag of Roswell, New Mexico
Official seal of Roswell, New Mexico
Nickname(s): "All America City - Alien City"
Location in the state of New Mexico
Location in the state of New Mexico
Country United States
State New Mexico
County Chaves
 • Mayor Dennis Kintigh
 • Total 29.9 sq mi (77.5 km2)
 • Land 29.8 sq mi (77.3 km2)
 • Water 0.04 sq mi (0.1 km2)
Elevation 3,573 ft (1,089 m)
Population (2010)
 • Total 48,411
Time zone Mountain (UTC−7)
 • Summer (DST) DST (UTC−6)
ZIP codes 88201-88203
Area code(s) 575
FIPS code 35-64930
GNIS feature ID 0894171
Website .gov.roswell-nmwww

Roswell is a city in, and the county seat of, Chaves County in the southeastern quarter of the state of New Mexico, United States.[1] As of the 2010 census it had a population of 48,411,[2] making it the 5th largest city in New Mexico. It is a center for irrigation farming, dairying, ranching, manufacturing, distribution, and petroleum production. It is also the home of New Mexico Military Institute (NMMI), founded in 1891. Bitter Lake National Wildlife Refuge is located a few miles northeast of the city on the Pecos River. Bottomless Lakes State Park is located 12 miles (19 km) east of Roswell on US 380.

Roswell is most popularly known for having its name attached to what is now called the 1947 Roswell UFO incident, even though the crash site of the alleged UFO was some 75 miles (121 km) from Roswell and closer to Corona. The investigation and debris recovery was handled by the local Roswell Army Air Field.


The White family home, built in 1912, is now a museum.
The Chaves County courthouse
Roswell flood

The first non-indigenous or Hispanic settlers of the area around Roswell were a group of pioneers from Missouri, who attempted to start a settlement 15 miles (24 km) southwest of what is now Roswell in 1865 but were forced to abandon the site because of a lack of water. It was called Missouri Plaza. It also had many Hispanic people from Lincoln, New Mexico. John Chisum had his famous Jingle Bob Ranch about 5 miles (8 km) from the center of Roswell, at South Spring Acres. At the time it was the largest ranch in the United States.

Van C. Smith, a businessman from Omaha, Nebraska, and his partner, Aaron Wilburn, constructed two adobe buildings in 1869 that began what is now Roswell. The two buildings became the settlement's general store, post office, and sleeping quarters for paying guests. In 1871, Smith filed a claim with the federal government for the land around the buildings, and on August 20, 1873, he became the town's first postmaster. Van C. Smith was the son of Roswell Smith, a prominent lawyer in Lafayette, Indiana, and Annie Ellsworth, daughter of U.S. Patent Commissioner Henry Leavitt Ellsworth. He called the town Roswell, after his father's first name.

In 1877, Captain Joseph Calloway Lea and his family bought out Smith and Wilburn's claim and became the owners of most of the land of Roswell and the area surrounding it. The town was relatively quiet during the Lincoln County War (1877–1879). A major aquifer was discovered when merchant Nathan Jaffa had a well drilled in his back yard on Richardson Avenue in 1890, resulting in the area's first major growth and development spurt. The growth continued when a railroad was built through town in 1893.

During World War II, a prisoner-of-war camp was located in nearby Orchard Park. The German prisoners of war were used to do major infrastructure work in Roswell, such as paving the banks of the North Spring River. Some POWs used rocks of different sizes to create the outline of an iron cross among the stones covering the north bank. Later, the iron cross was covered with a thin layer of concrete. In the 1980s, a crew cleaning the river bed cleared off the concrete and revealed the outline once more. The small park just south of the cross was then known as Iron Cross Park. On November 11, 1996, the park was renamed POW/MIA Park. The park displays a piece of the Berlin Wall, presented to the city of Roswell by the German Air Force.

In the 1930s, Roswell was a site for much of Robert H. Goddard's early rocketry work. (The Roswell Museum & Art Center maintains an exhibit which includes a recreation of Goddard's rocketry development workshop.)

Roswell was a location of military importance from 1941 to 1967. In 1967, the Walker Air Force Base was decommissioned. After the closure of the base, Roswell capitalized on its pleasant climate and reinvented itself as a retirement community.

Roswell Daily Record, July 8, 1947, announcing the "capture" of a "flying saucer"
International UFO Museum

Roswell has benefited from interest in the alleged UFO incident of 1947. It was the report of an object that crashed in the general vicinity in June or July 1947, allegedly an extraterrestrial spacecraft and its alien occupants. Since the late 1970s the incident has been the subject of intense controversy and of a conspiracy theory regarding a classified program named "Mogul". However, many UFO proponents maintain that an alien craft was found and its occupants were captured, and that the military then engaged in a cover-up. In recent times, the business community has deliberately sought out tourists interested in UFOs, science fiction, and aliens.

In 2002, Roswell was named one of the All-American cities.

Roswell was the city that hosted the record-breaking skydive by Felix Baumgartner on October 14, 2012.[3]


Roswell is located in southeastern New Mexico about 7 miles (11 km) west of the Pecos River and some 40 miles (64 km) east of highlands that rise to the Sierra Blanca range. U.S. Routes 70, 285, and 380 intersect in the city. US 70 leads northeast 111 miles (179 km) to Clovis and 117 miles (188 km) west to Alamogordo; US 285 leads north 192 miles (309 km) to Santa Fe and south 76 miles (122 km) to Carlsbad; and US 380 leads east 134 miles (216 km) to Brownfield, Texas, and west 164 miles (264 km) to Socorro, New Mexico.

According to the United States Census Bureau, Roswell has a total area of 29.9 square miles (77.5 km2), of which 29.8 square miles (77.3 km2) is land and 0.04 square miles (0.1 km2), or 0.19%, is water.[2]

Main Street


Roswell is located in the high plains and has four very distinct seasons, giving it a BSk or BSh semi-arid climate according to the Köppen climate classification. Winters are cold, but usually sunny and snowfall is a common occurrence. Spring is mild and usually warm, however they can still be cold on occasion. Summers are hot (as is common with the high plains of New Mexico and Colorado) and, quite frequently, the mercury rises to triple digit temperatures, which can be unpleasant. The North American Monsoon occurs during the summer, and can bring torrential downpours, severe thunderstorms (with high winds and hail) and sometimes even tornadoes. The rain can provide a cooling relief from the scorching desert heat. Fall is mild and pleasant, but can be cold. Snow is possible in the fall months of October and November.

The record low in Roswell is −24 °F (−31 °C) on January 11, 1962 and February 8, 1933.[4] The record high is 114 °F (46 °C) on June 27, 1994.[5]

Climate data for Roswell, New Mexico (Roswell Air Park), 1981–2010 normals, extremes 1893–present
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °F (°C) 88
Average high °F (°C) 55.1
Average low °F (°C) 26.1
Record low °F (°C) −24
Precipitation inches (mm) 0.38
Snowfall inches (cm) 3.2
Avg. precipitation days (≥ 0.01 in) 3.4 3.1 3.3 2.9 4.4 5.3 6.9 8.1 6.0 5.0 2.8 3.9 55.1
Avg. snowy days (≥ 0.1 in) 2.0 1.0 0.7 0.3 0 0 0 0 0 0.2 0.6 1.8 6.6
Mean monthly sunshine hours 217.0 226.0 282.1 309.0 344.1 345.0 328.6 300.7 264.0 269.7 216.0 210.8 3,313
Source #1: NOAA[4]
Source #2: HKO[6]


As of the 2000 census,[7] there were 45,293 people, 17,068 households, and 11,742 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,565.2 people per square mile (604.3/km²). There were 19,327 housing units at an average density of 667.9 per square mile (257.9/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 70.96% White, 2.47% African American, 1.28% Native American, 0.65% Asian, 21.29% from other races and 3.31% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 44.34% of the population.

There were 17,069 households out of which 34.5% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 49.1% were married couples living together, 14.9% had a female householder with no husband present, and 31.2% were non-families. 27.1% of all households were made up of individuals and 13.4% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.58 and the average family size was 3.13.

In the city the population was spread out with 28.5% under the age of 18, 9.9% from 18 to 24, 24.9% from 25 to 44, 20.6% from 45 to 64, and 16.0% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 35 years. For every 100 females there were 93.1 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 88.7 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $27,252, and the median income for a family was $31,724. Males had a median income of $26,554 versus $21,408 for females. The per capita income for the city was $14,589. About 18.7% of families and 22.6% of the population were below the poverty line, including 31.1% of those under age 18 and 13.8% of those age 65 or over.


Public schools

Private schools

  • All Saints Catholic School, a pre-K through 8th grade Catholic school
  • Gateway Christian School, a pre-K through high school parochial school (statistics)
  • Valley Christian Academy, a first grade through high school "interdenominational Christian school" (parochial)

Colleges and universities

  • Eastern New Mexico University-Roswell,[8] a branch of Eastern New Mexico University (headquartered in Portales). The Roswell campus offers several certificate and associate programs. There are also bachelor's and master's programs via ENMU's Instructional Television System (ITV).
  • New Mexico Military Institute, 2-year associate college degree programs

Professional education


  • The Roswell Invaders play in the Pecos League of Professional Baseball Clubs. The Invaders wear lime green uniforms to represent the city's extraterrestrial connections. Home games are played at the Joe Baumann Ballpark.



Bus routes

  • Served by Pecos Trails Transit

Major highways

Local industry

Notable residents

In popular culture

RISD office
New Mexico Military Institute
  • In "Little Green Men", an episode of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Quark, Rom and Nog are accidentally thrust back in time to Roswell in 1947 while on their way to Starfleet Academy. Their presence there is later covered up by the humans as a "crashed weather balloon", going along with the conspiracy theory.
  • The final level of Tony Hawk's Pro Skater is located in a version of the Roswell Army Air Field, in which UFOs and studies on aliens can be spotted.
  • Roswell is mentioned at the turning point in the movie Independence Day when it is shown that Area 51 conceals a top secret facility housing a repaired attacker and three alien bodies recovered from Roswell in 1947.
  • A hit teen drama, Roswell, aired in the late 1990s and early 2000s, focuses on four teenage alien-human hybrids, Max Evans, Isabel Evans, Michael Guerin and Tess Harding, living in Roswell. They are survivors of the 1947 UFO crash popularly known as the Roswell incident.
  • An episode of Futurama, "Roswell That Ends Well", takes place in 1947 Roswell, when Fry accidentally gets the crew transported back in time, and the authorities mistake Bender's disassembled body for a UFO and apprehend Dr. Zoidberg as an alien.
  • Roswell was featured in an episode of Monsters and Mysteries in America as the site of the Lechuza's attacks on children.
  • The Roswell crash was briefly seen in Escape from Planet Earth.
  • A fictional Roswell from the frontier period is one of the main locations in the 1893 German Western novel "Winnetou" and a subsequent movie "Apache Gold" from 1963. In this story a quite recently founded Roswell is the place of an important encounter between the main antagonists, a gang of outlaws led by Santer, the local Railway construction team led by one of the main heroes, Charlie (aka Old Shatterhand) working as an Railway Engineer, and eventually a band of Apache warriors led by the second main hero, Winnetou, son of the local chieftain [10]

See also


  1. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved 2011-06-07. 
  2. ^ a b "Geographic Identifiers: 2010 Demographic Profile Data (G001): Roswell city, New Mexico (revision of 01-02-2013)". U.S. Census Bureau, American Factfinder. Retrieved October 16, 2014. 
  3. ^ Llorca, Juan (October 14, 2012). "Felix Baumgartner Completes Record-Setting Jump". Huffington Post. Retrieved 17 October 2012. 
  4. ^ a b "NowData – NOAA Online Weather Data".  
  5. ^ Retrieved June 12, 2012Weather.comJune Daily Averages for Roswell, NM
  6. ^ Hong Kong Observatory—[1]. Retrieved October 19, 2011.
  7. ^ "American FactFinder".  
  8. ^ "Eastern New Mexico University – Roswell". Eastern New Mexico University. Retrieved March 8, 2010. 
  9. ^ "Lots a Mozzarella in Roswell – Leprino Foods". 2001. 
  10. ^ Karl May (1893). Winnetou 1. Abridged edition from 1999. Washington State University Press. ISBN 087422179X.
  • City Map, Roswell, New Mexico. Roswell: Roswell Printing, 1976.

External links

Bitter Lake
Roswell Museum & Art Center
Roswell Chamber of Commerce
Roswell UFO Museum

Community info:

  • City of Roswell official website
  • Roswell Chamber of Commerce
  • Forbes article on Roswell
  • Roswell Independent School District
  • Eastern New Mexico University-Roswell

Tourism info:

  • Anderson Museum of Contemporary Art
  • Bitter Lake National Wildlife Refuge
  • Roswell Artist-in-Residence Program
  • Roswell Interactive Map & Directory
  • Roswell International UFO Museum & Research Center
  • Roswell Museum & Art Center
  • Roswell UFO Festival
  • Spring River Zoo
  • Walker Air Force Base Museum
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