Map of the Pecos River watershed.
|State||Texas, New Mexico|
|- location||29 mi (47 km) north of Pecos, New Mexico|
|- elevation||11,759 ft (3,584 m)|
|Seminole Canyon, Val Verde County, 37 mi (60 km) northwest of Del Rio, Texas|
|1,115 ft (340 m)|
|Length||926 mi (1,490 km)|
|Basin size||44,402 sq mi (115,000 km2)|
|- location||IBWC station 08-4474.10 near Langtry, Texas|
|- average||265 cu ft/s (7.5 m3/s)|
|- minimum||42 cu ft/s (1.2 m3/s)|
|- maximum||152,910 cu ft/s (4,330 m3/s)|
|Designated||June 6, 1990|
The Pecos River originates in north-central New Mexico and flows into Texas, emptying into the Rio Grande. Its headwaters are on the eastern slope of the Sangre de Cristo mountain range in Mora County north of Pecos, NM, at an elevation of over 12,000 feet (3,700 m) feet. The river flows for 926 miles (1,490 km) before reaching the Rio Grande near Del Rio. Its drainage basin encompasses about 44,300 square miles (115,000 km2).
New Mexico is a state in the Southwestern region of the United States of America; its capital and cultural center is Santa Fe, which was founded in 1610 as capital of Nuevo México, while its largest city is Albuquerque with its accompanying metropolitan area. It is one of the Mountain States and shares the Four Corners region with Utah, Colorado, and Arizona; its other neighboring states are Oklahoma to the northeast, Texas to the east-southeast, and the Mexican states of Chihuahua to the south and Sonora to the southwest. With a population around two million, New Mexico is the 36th state by population. With a total area of 121,592 sq mi (314,920 km2), it is the fifth-largest and sixth-least densely populated of the 50 states. Due to their geographic locations, northern and eastern New Mexico exhibit a colder, alpine climate, while western and southern New Mexico exhibit a warmer, arid climate.
Texas is the second largest state in the United States by both area and population. Geographically located in the South Central region of the country, Texas shares borders with the U.S. states of Louisiana to the east, Arkansas to the northeast, Oklahoma to the north, New Mexico to the west, and the Mexican states of Chihuahua, Coahuila, Nuevo León, and Tamaulipas to the southwest, and has a coastline with the Gulf of Mexico to the southeast.
The Rio Grande is one of the principal rivers in the southwest United States and northern Mexico. The Rio Grande begins in south-central Colorado in the United States and flows to the Gulf of Mexico. Along the way, it forms part of the Mexico–United States border. According to the International Boundary and Water Commission, its total length was 1,896 miles (3,051 km) in the late 1980s, though course shifts occasionally result in length changes. Depending on how it is measured, the Rio Grande is either the fourth- or fifth-longest river system in North America.
The name "Pecos" derives from the Keresan (Native American language) term for the Pecos Pueblo, [p'æyok'ona].
The river played a large role in the exploration of Texas by the Spanish. In the latter half of the 19th century, "West of the Pecos" was a reference to the rugged desolation of the Wild West. The Texas storekeeper, bartender, and justice of the peace, Roy Bean, a native of Kentucky, was often described as "The Only Law West of the Pecos", a phrase made popular from the 1956 syndicated television series, Judge Roy Bean , with Edgar Buchanan in the starring role. In the series narration, "West of the Pecos" is described as:
The Trans-Pecos, as originally defined in 1887 by the Texas geologist Robert T. Hill, is the portion of Texas that lies west of the Pecos River. The term is considered synonymous with "Far West Texas", a subdivision of West Texas. The Trans-Pecos is part of the Chihuahuan Desert, the largest desert in North America. It is the most mountainous and arid portion of the state, and most of its area is vast and sparsely populated, comprising seven of the ten largest counties by area in Texas. The area is known for the natural environment of the Big Bend and the gorge of the Rio Grande, part of which has been designated a National Wild and Scenic Rivers System. With the notable exceptions of Big Bend Ranch State Park, Big Bend National Park and the Guadalupe Mountains National Park, the vast majority of the Trans-Pecos region consists of privately owned ranchland. However, the majority of the region's population reside in the El Paso metropolitan area.
A justice of the peace (JP) is a judicial officer of a lower or puisne court, elected or appointed by means of a commission to keep the peace. In past centuries the term commissioner of the peace was often used with the same meaning. Depending on the jurisdiction, such justices dispense summary justice or merely deal with local administrative applications in common law jurisdictions. Justices of the peace are appointed or elected from the citizens of the jurisdiction in which they serve, and are usually not required to have any formal legal education in order to qualify for the office. Some jurisdictions have varying forms of training for JPs.
Phantly Roy Bean, Jr. was an eccentric American saloon-keeper and Justice of the Peace in Val Verde County, Texas, who called himself "The Law West of the Pecos". According to legend, he held court in his saloon along the Rio Grande on a desolate stretch of the Chihuahuan Desert of southwest Texas. After his death, Western films and books cast him as a hanging judge, although he is known to have sentenced only two men to hang, one of whom escaped.
the wildest spot in the United States ... virtually beyond the reach of the authorities, the railroads, then pushing their way west, attracted the most vicious characters in the country. It was said that all civilization and law stopped at the east bank of the Pecos. It took one man, a lone storekeeper who was sick of the lawlessness, to change all this. His name was Judge Roy Bean."
New Mexico and Texas disputed water rights to the river until the U.S. government settled the dispute in 1949 with the Pecos River Compact.The Pecos River Settlement Agreement was signed between New Mexico and Texas in 2003.
Multiple dams have been built along the Pecos River. Santa Rosa Lake is 117 miles/188 km east of Albuquerque. Sumner Lake, formed by the 1939 Sumner Dam, is located between Santa Rosa and Fort Sumner, NM. Two dams are located north of Carlsbad, New Mexico, at Avalon Dam and Brantley Dam, to help irrigate about 25,000 acres (10,000 ha) as part of the Carlsbad reclamation project (established in 1906). Texas has also dammed the river at the Red Bluff Dam in the western part of that state to form the Red Bluff Reservoir. The portion of the reservoir that extends into New Mexico forms the lowest point in that state.
Sumner Dam is a dam on the Pecos River in De Baca County in eastern New Mexico.
Carlsbad is a city in and the county seat of Eddy County, New Mexico, United States. 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.
Avalon Dam is a small dam on the Pecos River about 5 miles (8.0 km) north of Carlsbad, New Mexico, United States. The dam is a storage and regulating reservoir, and diverts water into the main canal of the Carlsbad Project, an irrigation scheme.
On June 6, 1990, 20.5 miles (33 km) of the Pecos River—from its headwaters to the townsite of Tererro —received National Wild and Scenic River designation. It includes 13.5 miles (22 km) designated "wild" and 7 miles (11 km) designated "recreational".
The Pecos River Flume is an aqueduct carrying irrigation water over the Pecos River. Construction took place from 1889 to 1890 and was part of the Pecos River Reclamation Project. It was originally constructed of wood and spanned 145 feet (44 m). It carried water at a depth of 8 feet (2.4 m). In 1902, a flood destroyed the flume and it was subsequently rebuilt using concrete. In 1902, it was identified as the largest concrete aqueduct in the world.
The flume and its surrounding area have been reclaimed by the city of Carlsbad and transformed into a tourist attraction, with park improvements along the river and spotlights to give a spectacular nightly view.
Elephant Butte Reservoir is a reservoir on the Rio Grande in the U.S. state of New Mexico, 5 miles (8.0 km) north of Truth or Consequences. This reservoir is the 84th largest man-made lake in the United States, and the largest in New Mexico by total surface area and peak volume. It is the only place in New Mexico where one can find pelicans perched on or alongside the lake. There are also temporary US Coast Guard bases stationed at Elephant Butte. It is impounded by Elephant Butte Dam and is part of the largest state park in New Mexico, Elephant Butte Lake State Park.
Elephant Butte Dam or Elephant Butte Dike is a concrete gravity dam on the Rio Grande river near Truth or Consequences, New Mexico. The dam impounds Elephant Butte Reservoir, which is used mainly for agriculture, and also provides for recreation, hydroelectricity and flood control. The construction of the dam has reduced the flow of the Rio Grande to a small stream for most of the year, with water released only during the summer irrigation season, or during times of exceptionally heavy snow melt.
Amistad Reservoir is a reservoir on the Rio Grande at its confluence with the Devils River 12 miles (19 km) northwest of Del Rio, Texas. The lake is bounded by Val Verde County on the United States side of the international border and by the state of Coahuila on the Mexican side of the border; the American shoreline forms the Amistad National Recreation Area. The reservoir was formed in 1969 by the construction of Amistad Dam. The dam and lake are managed jointly by the governments of the United States and Mexico through the International Boundary and Water Commission. The name of the dam and lake is the Spanish word for "friendship". The reservoir is also known as Lake Amistad.
The Rio Chama, a major tributary river of the Rio Grande, is located in the U.S. states of Colorado and New Mexico. The river is about 130 miles (210 km) long altogether. From its source to El Vado Dam its length is about 50 miles (80 km), from El Vado Dam to Abiquiu Dam is about 51 miles (82 km), and from Abiquiu Dam to its confluence with the Rio Grande is about 34 miles (55 km).
James John (J.J.) Hagerman was an American industrialist who owned mines, railroads and corporate farms in the American West in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. He was one of the most influential men in territorial New Mexico.
The Carlsbad Irrigation District, also known as Carlsbad Reclamation Project or Irrigation system of the Pecos Irrigation and Improvement Company, is a major early water reclamation project located near Carlsbad in southeastern New Mexico. Begun in the 1880s, it is now managed by the United States Bureau of Reclamation, and provides irrigation water to a large area around Carlsbad, diverted from the Pecos River and the Black River. The late 19th and early 20th-century elements of the project were designated a National Historic Landmark District in 1964.
The Rio Grande Project is a United States Bureau of Reclamation irrigation, hydroelectricity, flood control, and interbasin water transfer project serving the upper Rio Grande basin in the southwestern United States. The project irrigates 193,000 acres (780 km2) along the river in the states of New Mexico and Texas. Approximately 60 percent of this land is in New Mexico. Some water is also allotted to Mexico to irrigate some 25,000 acres (100 km2) on the south side of the river. The project was authorized in 1905, but its final features were not implemented until the early 1950s.
The Rio Hondo is a 79-mile-long (127 km) river in southern New Mexico which begins at the confluence of the Rio Bonito and Rio Ruidoso rivers near the town of Hondo, New Mexico. The river flows eastward through the Hondo Valley in the foothills of the Sierra Blanca and Capitan Mountains, roughly paralleling the route of U.S. Route 70 through the towns of Picacho and Tinnie. Near the community of Riverside the river passes through a deep canyon before entering the rolling hills west of Roswell.
The Jemez River is a tributary of the Rio Grande in the U.S. state of New Mexico. The river is formed by the confluence of the East Fork Jemez River and San Antonio Creek, which drain a number of tributaries in the area of the Jemez Mountains and Santa Fe National Forest. The Jemez River is about 50 miles (80 km) long, or about 80 miles (130 km) long if its longest headwater tributary, San Antonio Creek, is included. The East Fork Jemez River is about 22 miles (35 km) long. Both San Antonio Creek and the East Fork Jemez River flow through intricate meanders along their courses. The East Fork Jemez is a National Wild and Scenic River.
Amistad Dam is a major embankment dam across the Rio Grande between Texas, United States, and Coahuila, Mexico. Built to provide irrigation water storage, flood control, and hydropower generation, it is the largest dam along the international boundary reach of the Rio Grande. The dam is over 6 miles (9.7 km) long, lies mostly on the Mexican side of the border, and forms Amistad Reservoir. It supplies water for irrigation in the Rio Grande Valley, 574 miles (924 km) upstream of the Rio Grande's mouth on the Gulf of Mexico at Brownsville, Texas/Matamoros, Tamaulipas.
The San Juan-Chama Project is a U.S. Bureau of Reclamation interbasin water transfer project located in the states of New Mexico and Colorado in the United States. The project consists of a series of tunnels and diversions that take water from the drainage basin of the San Juan River – a tributary of the Colorado River – to supplement water resources in the Rio Grande watershed. The project furnishes water for irrigation and municipal water supply to cities along the Rio Grande including Albuquerque and Santa Fe.
Santa Rosa Dam is a dam in Guadalupe County, New Mexico.
The Middle Rio Grande Project manages water in the Albuquerque Basin of New Mexico, United States. It includes major upgrades and extensions to the irrigation facilities built by the Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District and modifications to the channel of the Rio Grande to control sedimentation and flooding. The bulk of the work was done by the United States Bureau of Reclamation and the United States Army Corps of Engineers in the 1950s, but construction continued into the 1970s and maintenance is ongoing. The project is complementary to the San Juan-Chama Project, which transfers water from the San Juan River in the Colorado River Basin to the Rio Grande. Although distribution of water from the two projects is handled through separate allotments and contracts, there is some sharing of facilities including the river itself. The ecological impact on the river and the riparian zone was the subject of extended litigation after a group of environmentalists filed Rio Grande Silvery Minnow v. Bureau of Reclamation in 1999.
Brantley Dam is a flood-control and irrigation water-storage dam on the Pecos River in Eddy County, New Mexico, about 13 miles (21 km) north of Carlsbad, New Mexico, and 10 miles (16 km) upstream from Avalon Dam.
The Percha Diversion Dam is a structure built in 1918 on the Rio Grande in New Mexico, United States. It diverts water from the Rio Grande into the Rincon Valley Main Canal, an irrigation canal.
Pope's Crossing was a ford on the Pecos River located one mile south of the New Mexico-Texas border on the modern Loving-Reeves county line. Discovered by members of an 1855 expedition tasked with drilling artesian wells east of the Pecos led by U. S. Army topographical engineer John Pope, the ford quickly became the primary crossing of the river on the “upper” military or emigrant road between San Antonio and the ford on the Rio Grande opposite the Mexican town of El Paso del Norte. Heavily used by emigrants, soldiers, traders, and freighters eager to avoid the more difficult and unpredictable crossings further south, Pope's Crossing became a well-traveled part of the network of transcontinental wagon roads that developed across Texas in the 1850s to facilitate settlement and commerce in the southwestern lands recently acquired as a result of the Mexican-American War. The ford on the Pecos chosen by the Butterfield Overland Mail line and, later, by the Goodnight-Loving cattle trail, Pope's Crossing would also play a significant role in the development of transportation, communication, and economic infrastructure in the Trans-Pecos region of Texas. Rendered impractical by the coming of the railroads in 1880, the crossing, and the associated camp Pope established nearby, would be inundated by the waters of Red Bluff Reservoir, created when the Pecos was impounded by the construction of the Red Bluff Dam in 1936.