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Carlsbad, New Mexico

Carlsbad Caverns National Park

~ New Mexico USA ~

One of my high school tromping grounds, I often went to Carlsbad for visits to Carlsbad Caverns or Sitting Bull Falls. I probably visited the area as often as a Floridian kid visits Disney World. It is a small city in Eddy County New Mexico that is most famous for its Caverns. In 2010, the Census stated that it had a population of 26,138 residents. It is in the heart of southeastern New Mexico at the intersections of U.S. Routes 62/180 and 285. It is located at the eastern edge of the Guadalupe Mountains, the Lincoln National Forest to its northwest, and has the Pecos River running through it. It is in the northern reaches of the Chihuahuan Desert eco-region in the lower Pecos River Valley.

Besides the caverns, Carlsbad is known for its salt mines, potash mining, petroleum, and tourism. It was originally developed based on agriculture, livestock, irrigation water, and healing mineral springs.

Historically Native Americans resided in the area, but were pushed out with immigrants from Engand, Switzerland, France, and Italy. It was formed as a town on September 15, 1888 and a municipal corporation in 1893 after Charles B. Eddy, co-owner of the Eddy-Bissell Livestock Company. There were commercialization of of local mineral springs near the flume that boasted medicinal properties so they named their town after the famous European spa town called Carlsbad (Karlovy Vary in the Czech Republic).

The re-discovery of Carlsbad Caverns, originally called “The Bat Cave” by cowboys in 1901 led to the establishment of Carlsbad Caverns National Park on May 14, 1930. In 1925 potash was discovered near Carlsbad and the region dominated the Aerican potash market for years. After the potash marked crashed in the 1960’s, residents of the area voted for the establishment of the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) where low-level nuclear waste would be stored thousands of feet undergroun in salt beds. It was authorized by Congress in 1979 and construction completed in 1980 and first waste shipment arrived in 1999. Today Carlsbad is experiencing an oil and natural gas boom.

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