HISTORY OF EDDY COUNTY New Mexico

 

 

 

Eddy County is located in Southeastern New Mexico; bordered to the West by Otero County, the North by Chaves County, the East by Lea County and to the South, by the State of Texas.  The county was named for cattle rancher Charles B. Eddy.

Long before Charles Eddy came along, the area was home to other groups and tribes of people.  Around 25,000 BC, the people living in the area of Eddy County were relatives of "Sandia Man".  Nomadic hunters wandered the area, hunting buffalo and other game, over the next several thousand years. 

In the 1300's, a more sedentary group of people called "Basket Makers" settled in the caves around Eddy County and in pit houses, West of the Pecos River.  In the early 1500's, Spanish Explorers Alvar Nunez, Cabeza de Vaca, Antonio Espéjo and Castaño de Sosa, traveled through present day Eddy County, following the life giving Pecos. 

In 1866, Charles Goodnight and Oliver Loving drove vast herds of cattle along the Pecos and set up "cow camps" in Seven Rivers and what is present day Carlsbad.  John Chisum soon joined them and brought an estimated 100,000 head of cattle of his own through the Pecos Valley. 

In 1881, Charles B. Eddy came to the area, and with his brother, John, and partner Amos Bissell, developed the Eddy-Bissell Cattle Company.  In 1884 the Eddy brothers and Bissell broke ground on the Halagueno Ranch which encompassed an area from Seven Rivers to La Huerta (a suburb of Carlsbad).  In 1887, Eddy built the Halagueno diversion ditch on the Pecos, 3 miles above the site of the Avalon Dam (which was completed in 1890) and incorporated the venture, calling it the Pecos Valley Land and Ditch Company.  Eddy was looking to entice Europeans to settle the area and with the new Halagueno Ranch and the Pecos Valley Land and Ditch Company established, he sought funds from a Swiss bank to help attract them to the clean air and sunny climate.

During the 1890s, development was fueled by the arrival of colonies of immigrants from England, Switzerland, France and Italy. The original settlement bore the name of Charles B. Eddy, co-owner of the Eddy-Bissell Livestock Company. The cattleman recognized the value of diverting water from the Pecos River to the grazing lands on his Halagueno Ranch, which included present-day Carlsbad.

In 1888, Eddy arranged for the careful layout of streets in the new town and planted young cottonwood trees to line them.

When the territorial legislature set the boundaries of Eddy County, in 1889, Seven Rivers was named the county seat.  (In 1889, New Mexico was not a state yet.  Statehood was granted in 1911.)  In 1890,  Eddy was now a competitor for county seat.  During an election that year for new county commissioners, a referendum was on the ballot to change the seat from Seven Rivers to Eddy.  The referendum passed by a vote of 331 to 83.  In that year, the census said Eddy had only 278 people and they cast 241 of the winning votes.  The referendum also included the building of a courthouse.  Charles Eddy donated the land which consisted of an entire town block.  The county commissioners authorized a contract for $30,000 to build a brick courthouse.  It was constructed in the Victorian style of the day.  The courthouse was enlarged in 1914 (East Wing added) and again in 1939, when it was also remodeled in the stucco covered, Pueblo Style, which it is today.  In 1899, the town of Eddy decided to change the name to Carlsbad, after the famous European health resort, Karlsbad, Bohemia (now the Czech Republic), as both towns had identical, mineral rich, springs. By 1892, the newspaper reported that the town company had planted 12,000 trees.
Lots were sold for $50 to $400 each. Because the town’s benefactor was determined to create a model temperance community, restrictions against the manufacture or sale of alcoholic beverages were inserted into the deeds of each lot. A small satellite community of saloons and prostitutes flourished for a while in what was known as “Phenix,” south of the tee-totaling Eddy Township.
Former Lincoln County Sheriff Pat Garrett (famous for gunning down Billy the Kid in 1881) first envisioned an ambitious development project to harness the valley’s water resources with a series of dams and canals for irrigation. He brought promoter Charles W. Greene to the Halagueno Ranch to meet Eddy, who soon recognized that more capital was needed for such a venture. Later, Robert W. Tansill introduced Eddy to millionaire James J. Hagerman, who became a principal investor in the Pecos Irrigation and Improvement Company. Unfortunately, Garrett was edged out of the new partnership.
Eddy, known as the “Pearl of the Pecos,” began as a company town for the massive irrigation and real estate development business. Hagerman and his partners soon formed their own corporation and took over the enterprise. 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 were met at the railroad station in Toyah, Texas and driven by buggy 90 miles over a rough, dusty road to this small but growing settlement on the banks of the Pecos River.
By March 1893, the newspaper reported that there were eleven visiting millionaires in Eddy. All were attracted here by the prospect of highly profitable investments.
Soon after the town of Eddy was incorporated in 1893, a disastrous flood swept away the Avalon and Tansill dams, the original wooden irrigation flume, and the Greene Street bridge. The irrigation system was promptly rebuilt, but the town’s boom period had ended. By 1899, residents voted to change the town’s name from Eddy to Carlsbad, after the Karlsbad Spa in Czechoslovakia. The inspiration for the renaming was a large spring near the flume which reportedly had mineral qualities similar to the famous European health resort.

The town constructed a first-class hotel to provide lodging for the wealthy visitors arriving by train. The Hagerman Hotel, a two-story, 60-room lodging house, was located on the southwest corner of Canyon and Mermod streets, facing the courthouse square.

In 1918 Carlsbad officially became a city when New Mexico Governor W. E. Lindsay granted the town permission to incorporate, since the population had surpassed 2,000. Today, Carlsbad owes its world fame to Carlsbad Caverns National Park, which lies 20 miles to the southwest.

Loving New Mexico is a farming and ranching community  10 miles South East of Carlsbad.  It was first named Vaud in 1893 by a group of Swiss Settlers who imported Italian Laborers to work on theri farms.