Santa Rosa, New Mexico
The City of Natural Lakes in Guadalupe County, New Mexico – this city is a Route 66 tourist destination, especially for it’s Blue Hole and recreational activities. It is a relatively small town, with approximately 2,848 residents according to the 2010 Census. It is located at the intersection of I-40, Route 54, and U.S. Route 84 in between Albuquerque and Tucumcari along the Pecos River. In the Northeastern part of the state, the city is west of the staked planes of Eastern New Mexico and west Texas.
The first Euro-American settlement was “Little Black Water” or Aqua Negra Chiquita in 1865 and later changed in 1890 to Santa Rosa after the chapel that Don Celso Baca the city’s founder built and named after Saint Rose o Lima and his mother Rosa. The name also may refer to the roses in the story of Our Lady of Guadalupe and the Catholicism of the Spanish colonizers who settled here. The area became pouplar in 1902 with the building of the Chicago, Rock Island, and Pacific Railroad went through there and the Northeastern Railway from the southwest. The east-west highway through town was Highway 66 in 1926 making it a popular rest stop with motels and cafes. The city was a scene in John Steinbeck’s novel “The Grapes of Wrath” and the movie filmed by John Ford for the infamous train scene as well as shooting scenes for Bobbie Jo and the Outlaw.
Santa Rosa has numerous natural lakes which is odd for the dry desert climate making it an oasis of sorts. Numerous sinkholes have formed in the limestone bedrock of the area and filled with water all connected by a network of underground water filled tunnels making it a popular cave diving and scuba training location. The most famous of the sinkholes is the “Blue Hole” which stays cool year round at 61 °F (16 °C) water forms a lake over 81 feet (25 m) deep.