Northeastern Part of Southeastern New Mexico Historical Markers

Michael has a BA in History & American Studies and an MSc in American History from the University of Edinburgh. He comes from a proud military family and has spent most of his career as an educator in the Middle East and Asia. His passion is travel, and he seizes any opportunity to share his experiences in the most immersive way possible, whether at sea or on the land.

Back to Southeastern New Mexico Maps
Topics (click on a topic to jump to that section)
Blackwater Draw | Clovis | Eastern New Mexico University | Llano Estacado | Los Portales Portales Springs | Pecos Valley | Portales | Stinking Springs

Blackwater Draw

In Blackwater Draw stream gravels are famous camp sites of Folsom Man. Draw is in Portales Valley, eroded into High Plains, and headwaters of Brazos River, beheaded by lower Pecos River in Pleistocene time. Local sand dunes conceal underlying Ogalalla sandstones whose "fossil" water feeds irrigated crops.


During the 1700s and early 1800s, Comanche Indian buffalo hunters used trails that passed near here. In 1907 the Santa Fe Railroad established Clovis to serve as the eastern terminal of the Belen Cutoff, which would connect with the transcontinental line at Belen. Formerly the domain of ranchers, the railroad opened the area to farmers.

Eastern New Mexico University

This University was established at Portales in 1927 by the State Legislature as the Eastern New Mexico Normal school. It opened for the 1934-35 school year with 274 students. Originally established to train teachers for rural schools, Eastern now has a wide range of undergraduate and graduate programs to serve the instructional, public service and research needs of the state and the nation.

Llano Estacado

Nomadic Indians and countless buffalo herds dominated this vast plain when the Vasquez de Coronado explored it in 1541. Later it was the focus of Comanchero activity, and in the 19th century it became a center for cattle ranching. The name Llano Estacado, or staked plains, refers to the fortress-like appearance of its escarpments.

Los Portales Portales Springs

Nearby in Los Portales, the site of a fresh water spring located among overhanging natural formations which according to Hispanic folklore reminded Spanish explorers of porches. During the late 19th century, this spring became an important stopping place along the trail between Fort Sumner and west Texas. Williams "Billy the Kid" Bonney and other outlaws frequently used the spring as a hideout.

Pecos Valley

You are on plain bordering east side of Pecos Valley. Caprock escarpment, or west edge of Llano Estacado (Stockaded Plain) 15 miles to southwest on horizon. Capitan Mountains and Sierra Blanca on western skyline are east edge of Basin and Range province. Railroad Mountain, low east-west ridge 5 miles to south is igneous dike.


Portales derives its name from the porch-like appearance of a cave entrance at nearby Portales Springs. It developed as a major peanut producing region in the early twentieth century, after the Pecos Valley Railroad opened the area for commercial agricultural development. Eastern New Mexico University was founded here in 1934.

Picture of Sheriff Pat Garrett
Sheriff Pat Garrett
Picture from the book, Panhandle Pilgrimage,
by Pauline Durrett and R.L. Robertson
Stinking Springs

William "Billy the Kid" Bonney and three members of his gang surrendered to a posse led by Sheriff Pat Garrett at a rock house near here on December 24, 1880. A fifth outlaw was killed during the gunfight. Bonney later escaped but was finally killed by Sheriff Garrett at Fort Sumner on July 14, 1881.

Join the discussion

Further reading

Recent Comments