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Carlsbad, New Mexico

Eddy County Courthouse  Carlsbad Museum and Art Center, Carlsbad Library Carlsbad Municipal Building
Eddy County Courthouse
Carlsbad Museum and Art Center, Carlsbad Library
Carlsbad Municipal Building
Official seal of Carlsbad
Nickname(s): The Cavern City,
The Pearl on the Pecos
Location in the state of New Mexico.
Location in the state of New Mexico.
Carlsbad is located in USA
Location in the United States
Country United States
State New Mexico
County Eddy County
Founded 1888 (as Eddy)
Incorporated 1893 (as Eddy)
1899 (as Carlsbad)
 • Type Mayor-council government
 • Mayor Dale Janway
 • City Council
 • State House
 • State Senate
 • U.S. House
 • Total 28.4 sq mi (73.6 km2)
 • Land 28.4 sq mi (73.5 km2)
 • Water 0.0 sq mi (0.1 km2)
Elevation 3,295 ft (1,004 m)
Population (2010)
 • Total 26,138
Time zone MST (UTC-7)
 • Summer (DST) MDT (UTC-6)
ZIP codes 88220-88221
Area code(s) 575
FIPS code 35-12150
GNIS feature ID


Primary Airport Cavern City Air Terminal
Website City of Carlsbad

Carlsbad ( ) is the county seat of Eddy County, New Mexico, United States.[1] As of the 2010 census, the city population was 26,138. Carlsbad is centered at the intersection of U.S. Routes 62/180 and 285, and is the principal city of the Carlsbad-Artesia Micropolitan Statistical Area, which has a total population of 55,435. Located in the Southeastern part of New Mexico, Carlsbad straddles the Pecos River and sits at the eastern edge of the Guadalupe Mountains.

Carlsbad is a hub for potash mining, petroleum production, and tourism. Carlsbad Caverns National Park is located 18 mi (29 km) southwest of the city and Guadalupe Mountains National Park lies 40 miles southwest across the Texas border; the Lincoln National Forest is to the northwest of town.


  • History 1
  • Geography and Climate 2
  • Demographics 3
    • 2010 Census 3.1
  • Government 4
  • Economy 5
    • Mining 5.1
  • Education 6
    • Public schools 6.1
      • Pre-elementary schools 6.1.1
      • Elementary schools 6.1.2
      • Middle schools 6.1.3
      • High schools 6.1.4
    • Private schools 6.2
    • Colleges and universities 6.3
  • Media and journalism 7
    • Print 7.1
    • Radio 7.2
    • Television 7.3
  • Sports 8
  • Infrastructure 9
    • Transportation 9.1
      • Major highways 9.1.1
      • Bridges 9.1.2
      • Mass transit 9.1.3
      • Bus service 9.1.4
      • Airports 9.1.5
        • Regional
        • International
      • Rail 9.1.6
    • Utilities 9.2
      • Energy 9.2.1
      • Sanitation 9.2.2
    • Healthcare 9.3
  • Research, development, and technology facilities 10
  • Points of interest 11
  • Notable people 12
  • Gallery 13
  • References 14
  • External links 15


Development of Southeastern New Mexico in the late 19th century was fueled by the arrival of colonies of immigrants from England, Switzerland, France, and Italy. Located along the banks of the Pecos River, Carlsbad was originally christened the town of Eddy on September 15, 1888 and organized as a municipal corporation in 1893; the settlement bore the name of Charles B. Eddy, co-owner of the Eddy-Bissell Livestock Company.[2] With the commercial development of local mineral springs near the flume for medicinal qualities, the town later voted to change its name to Carlsbad after the famous European spa Carlsbad, Bohemia (now Karlovy Vary, Czech Republic). On March 25, 1918, the growing town surpassed a population of 2,000, allowing then-governor of New Mexico Washington Ellsworth Lindsey to proclaim Carlsbad a city.

Most of Carlsbad's development was due to irrigation water. Local cattleman recognized the value of diverting water from the Pecos River to the grazing lands on Eddy's Halagueno Ranch. Many construction projects were undertaken to establish an irrigation system within the town. The Avalon Dam was constructed upstream of town and canals diverted the water into town.[3] Conflict arose when the canals met up with the river downstream; as a result, the Pecos River Flume was built, first out of wood and later concrete (the Flume is often titled the only place where a river crosses itself).

Key to the growth of the area were special excursion trains that brought visitors from the east at reduced fares. Even before the railroad was completed from Pecos in 1891, travel parties met at the railroad station in Toyah, Texas and were driven by buggy 90 miles over a rough, dusty road to this small but growing settlement on the banks of the Pecos River.[4] Most of the early construction in Carlsbad was completed with locally manufactured bricks. The bricks were quite soft and of poor quality. The former First National Bank building at the corner of Canal and Fox streets is one of the few remaining buildings constructed with the local brick. The re-discovery of Carlsbad Caverns (then known as "Bat Cave") by local cowboys in 1901 and the subsequent establishment of Carlsbad Caverns National Park on May 14, 1930 gained the town of Carlsbad substantial recognition.

In 1925, potash was discovered near Carlsbad and for many years Carlsbad dominated the American potash market.[5] Following the decline of the potash market in the 1960s, the residents and leaders of Carlsbad lobbied for the establishment of the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP), a site where low level nuclear waste would be stored thousands of feet underground in salt beds. Congress authorized the WIPP project in 1979 and construction began in 1980. The DOE Carlsbad Area Office opened in 1993 and the first waste shipment arrived in 1999.

Currently, Carlsbad has experienced a “boom”. The city is leading in the production of oil and natural gases across the entire area, causing an increase in the employment rate. Due to this increase families and individuals have begun to migrate to Carlsbad. It is safe to say that the population has easily doubled.[6]

Photo of Carlsbad, NM from the top of C-Hill

Geography and Climate

Carlsbad is located at (32.407577, -104.245167)[7] at an elevation of 3,295 feet (1,004 m). Carlsbad is situated in the heart of the Chihuahuan Desert ecoregion and the lower Pecos River Valley.

According to the United States Census Bureau, Carlsbad has a total area of 28.4 square miles (74 km2); 28.3 square miles (73 km2) of the city is land and 0.1 square miles (0.26 km2) is water.

Most of the water within city limits consists of the Pecos River and Lake Carlsbad recreation area. The river flows into the northern part of Carlsbad, downstream from Lake Avalon and Brantley Lake, and exits in the southeast. Dark Canyon Draw also runs through the southern part of town, but only drains during heavy rainfall.[8]

Carlsbad is part of the Interior West climate zone.[9] It is classified as semi-arid (Köppen BSk), meaning average annual precipitation is less than potential evapotranspiration, but more than half. A moderate amount of rain falls each year, with the maximum occurring during September. 53 tornadoes have been reported in Eddy County since 1950.

Climate data for Carlsbad, New Mexico
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °F (°C) 86
Average high °F (°C) 58
Average low °F (°C) 28
Record low °F (°C) −16
Average precipitation inches (mm) 0.44


2010 Census

As of the census[13] of 2010, there are 26,138 people, 10,257 households, and 6,898 families residing in the city. The population density is 920.4/mi² (353.2/km²). There are 11,421 housing units at an average density of 402.6 per square mile (155.4/km²).

The racial makeup of the city was:[14]

There are 10,257 households out of which 29.2% have children under the age of 18 living with them, 46.0% are married couples living together, 14.0% have a female householder with no husband present, and 32.7% are non-families. 28.1% of all households are made up of individuals and 11.4% have someone living alone who is 65 years of age or older. The average household size is 2.50 and the average family size is 3.03.

In the city the population is spread out with 25.6% under the age of 18, 9.0% from 18 to 24, 23.8% from 25 to 44, 26.1% from 45 to 64, and 15.6% who are 65 years of age or older. The median age is 39.4 years. For every 100 females there are 96.5 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there are 93.6 males.

The median income for a household in the city is $30,658, and the median income for a family is $35,640. Males have a median income of $31,214 versus $19,228 for females. The per capita income for the city is $16,496. 16.5% of the population and 13.1% of families are below the poverty line. Out of the total population, 21.4% of those under the age of 18 and 11.2% of those 65 and older are living below the poverty line.


The city of Carlsbad has a mayor-council form of government. Voters elect both the mayor and the eight members of the city council (two for each ward), who pass laws and make policy. After the first meeting of the city council once newly elected council members are seated, the council elects a Mayor pro tempore who serves as mayor in absence of the elected mayor.


Largest Employers in Carlsbad[16]
1 Washington Tru Solutions LLC
2 Carlsbad Municipal Schools
3 Mosaic Potash Carlsbad
4 Constructors, Inc.
5 Carlsbad Medical Center
6 Intrepid Potash
7 Landsun Homes, Inc.
8 Lowe's
9 New Mexico State University-Carlsbad
10 Lakeview Christian Home

The economy of the Carlsbad area is based primarily on the mineral extraction sector; the city overlies the rich oil- and gas-producing formations of the Permian Basin and produces more potash than any other location in the United States. Carlsbad is home to the DOE's Carlsbad Field Office which operates the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant to safely store the transuranic nuclear wastes from the nation's defense sites. Tourism is a major factor with Carlsbad Caverns National Park, Guadalupe Mountains National Park, Lincoln National Forest, the Living Desert Zoo and Gardens State Park, and the annual Christmas on the Pecos Light Show all located within fifty miles of the city.


Potash is a potassium-containing compound used as a fertilizer, along with nitrogen and phosphorus. Potash deposits were found underground across the Permian Basin in 1925. Two companies, Mosaic Potash Carlsbad (formerly IMC Global) and Intrepid Potash (formerly Mississippi Chemical Corporation), operate mining operations east of Carlsbad. Both mines employ a significant number of workers from surrounding communities; each company also contributes to local charities.


Public schools

Carlsbad Municipal School District is the operating public school system for Carlsbad.[17] Besides the before mentioned schools, Carlsbad Municipal Schools also operates a charter school, Jefferson Montessori Academy. The mission of the Carlsbad Board of Education is to create a public school environment which meets the individual educational needs of all children regardless of their ability, ethnicity, creed, gender or social standing. [18]

Pre-elementary schools

  • Dr. E. M. Smith Pre-School
  • Early Childhood Education Center (Kindergarten)

Elementary schools

  • Craft Elementary School
  • Hillcrest Elementary School
  • Joe Stanley Smith Elementary School
  • Monterrey Elementary School
  • Pate Elementary School
  • Puckett Elementary School
  • Riverside Elementary School
  • Sunset Elementary School

Middle schools

  • Alta Vista Middle School
  • P.R. Leyva Middle School

High schools

Private schools

Four private schools are located in Carlsbad: Faith Christian Academy, Trinity Christian Academy, Victory Christian Academy, and St. Edwards Catholic School.

Colleges and universities

New Mexico State University has a branch campus located in Carlsbad, offering certificate, associate degree, bachelor's degree, and continuing education programs. NMSUC has a student population of approximately 2,000 and a staff of 104 faculty. Previously known as the Carlsbad Instructional Center, the campus was established in 1950 as the state's first community college. It was renamed a branch of NMSU in 1960.[19] The present-day main building was built in 1980; an additional instruction center was added in 1987 and the computer facilities wing was completed in 1996. By 2011, the campus had added an additional building to house its nursing program, the Allied Health and University Transfer Center.[20]

Eddy County Beauty College is also located in Carlsbad, providing certification programs for beauticians.

College of the Southwest and Northwood University both previously had branch campuses in Carlsbad.

Media and journalism


Carlsbad is serviced by a daily (except Monday) newspaper, the Carlsbad Current-Argus.

Focus on Carlsbad is a quarterly magazine published with local articles related to living, shopping, and vacationing in Carlsbad.[21]



Channel23TV is a local television station shown on cable television.[22] The channel airs coverage of special events and also local news; many residents host shows on topics from plant care to science. Movies like 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, Meet John Doe, and Scarlet Street are shown on Wednesdays. Channel23TV is currently unavailable on satellite television.[23][24]


The Carlsbad Bats professional baseball team is a member of the independent Pecos League. The Bats are primarily a travel team in the league, but played two games in Carlsbad in 2011. Carlsbad was considered, but turned down, for a full-time franchise in 2012.[25] Carlsbad recently constructed a youth sports complex on the southwest side of town, containing six softball and four soccer fields. Multiple local and regional tournaments are held at the complex yearly.

Carlsbad High School is a AAAAA school in the Fourth District of the New Mexico Activities Association. Carlsbad High School has teams competing in the sports of football, baseball, softball, basketball, track and field, golf, tennis, men's and women's soccer, swimming, wrestling, and rodeo.

The Carlsbad Velo Cycling Club [10], a local National Night Out.


Cavern Theater, Carlsbad, New Mexico, United States


Major highways

Two main highways run through the city:

  • US Highway 62/180 is named Canal Street as it enters the city from the southwest; at the intersection of Greene Street, 62/180 heads east.
  • US Highway 285 is named Canal street as it intersects 62/180 from the southeast; at the intersection of Pierce Street, 285 branches north.


There are three road bridges that cross waterways and serve the municipality:

  • Bataan Bridge crosses the Pecos River on East Greene Street.
  • North Canal Bridge crosses the Pecos River on North Canal Street.
  • South Canal Bridge crosses Dark Canyon Draw on South Canal Street.

Mass transit

The Carlsbad Municipal Transit System (CMTS) [11] provides public transportation within the city limits of Carlsbad and portions of Eddy County immediately adjacent to the city. CMTS operates three fixed routes and a general dial-a-ride service. Established in June 1996, CMTS operates a fleet of 17 vans and services persons with disabilities, seniors, students, and the general public. Average monthly ridership is approximately 4,800.

New Mexico Transportation Services, a private company, provides daily transportation to and from the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant for employees at fixed pick up locations throughout town.

Bus service

Greyhound Lines stops in Carlsbad on route 463 between El Paso, TX and Lubbock, TX.[26]




Southwestern Railroad operates the Burlington Northern Santa Fe railways in the Carlsbad area, providing freight service to the local potash mines. Two yard operations are present in Carlsbad: one between Muscatel Avenue and Orchard Lane, and the other between Greene and Church Streets.



Xcel Energy provides electricity to the Carlsbad area. New Mexico Gas Company provides natural gas services to more than 500,000 customers in the state, including Carlsbad.


The City of Carlsbad is responsible for the delivery of drinking water and the treatment of wastewater. The city also provides trash and recycling service to residents. Trash is sent to the Sandpoint Landfill east of town operated by Eddy County.


Carlsbad Medical Center is the primary hospital facility serving the greater Carlsbad area, operated by Community Health Systems. CMC is a 127-bed acute-care facility, including a 24-hour emergency room, imaging systems, and other services.[28] The town is also home to dialysis clinics, MRI facilities, an oncology center, and specialty clinics. Carlsbad Mental Health Association provides mental-health services, substance-abuse treatment, family and youth counseling, psychiatric services and employee-assistance programs.[29]

Two nursing homes are present in Carlsbad: Landsun Homes and Lakeview Christian Home.

Research, development, and technology facilities

Carlsbad has several research facilities, such as the Carlsbad Environmental Monitoring and Research Center (operated by New Mexico State University)[30] and the National Cave and Karst Research Center (operated by New Mexico Tech, the National Park Service, and the City of Carlsbad).[31] The United States Department of Energy's Sandia National Labs and Los Alamos National Laboratory each have branch operations in Carlsbad. The Carlsbad Department of Development and the City operate the Aero-Tech Industrial Technology Park including the Advanced Manufacturing and Innovation Training Center.[32]

Points of interest

The Living Desert State Park and Zoo in Carlsbad New Mexico has a painting bear. Maggie Oso paints with her paws in a variety of non-toxic paint colors and heavy white paper that the zoo curator places in her holding area. Maggie can choose the color of paint to use and the pattern that she will paint. Maggie’s painting are matted and framed for the public to see. Maggie’s art work has been featured in several art exhibits throughout Carlsbad.[33]

Notable people



  1. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved 2011-06-07. 
  2. ^ History of Carlsbad
  3. ^ [12]
  4. ^ Myers, Lee C. (1999). The Pearl of the Pecos: The Story of the Establishment of Eddy, New Mexico, and Irrigation on the Lower Pecos River of New Mexico: Compiled from Eddy Newspapers Between October 12, 1889 and October 23, 1897. Southeastern New Mexico Historical Society. p. 342. 
  5. ^ About Carlsbad, New Mexico
  6. ^
  7. ^ [13]
  8. ^ Dark Canyon Draw Water Report, United States Geological Survey Retrieved September 7, 2012
  9. ^ STRATUM Climate Zones, United States Forest Service Retrieved March 21, 2010
  10. ^ "Monthly Averages for Carlsbad, New Mexico".  
  11. ^ "Annual Estimates of the Resident Population for Incorporated Places: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2014". Retrieved June 4, 2015. 
  12. ^ "Census of Population and Housing". Retrieved June 4, 2015. 
  13. ^ "American FactFinder".  
  14. ^ "Carlsbad (city), New Mexico". State & County QuickFacts. U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved April 23, 2012. 
  15. ^ a b "American FactFinder". October 5, 2010. Retrieved July 12, 2012. 
  16. ^ Labor Analysis, Statistics, and Economic Research
  17. ^ Carlsbad Municipal Schools
  18. ^ The mission of the Carlsbad Board of Education is to create a public school environment which meets the individual educational needs of all children regardless of their ability, ethnicity, creed, gender or social standing.
  19. ^ [14]
  20. ^ Allied Health Grand Opening Press Release
  21. ^ Focus on Carlsbad
  22. ^ Channel23TV
  23. ^ "DirecTV lineup for 88220". Retrieved July 13, 2012. 
  24. ^ "DISH Network TV Listings". Retrieved July 13, 2012. 
  25. ^ [15]
  26. ^ Map of Greyhound Routes
  27. ^ Onsurez, Jessica and Katie England. Airport: Carlsbad now connected to Dallas/Fort Worth, Carlsbad Current-Argus, April 28, 2015, Retrieved 2015-04-28
  28. ^ [16]
  29. ^ [17]
  30. ^ Carlsbad Environmental Monitoring and Research Center
  31. ^ About National Cave and Karst Research Center
  32. ^ Carlsbad, NM Businesses
  33. ^ [18]

External links

  • National Park Service – Carlsbad Caverns
  • City of Carlsbad
  • Carlsbad Dept Of Development
  • Carlsbad Chamber Of Commerce
  • Visit Carlsbad, New Mexico
  • Eddy County Government Page
  • Carlsbad Municipal School District
  • Christmas on the Pecos
  • Carlsbad Current-Argus
  • Historical photographs of Carlsbad, NM area (15,000+)
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