Pecos River

Last updated
Pecos River
Rio Pecos
Pecos river bridge.jpg
Pecosmap.png
Map of the Pecos River watershed.
Location
Country United States
State Texas, New Mexico
Physical characteristics
SourcePecos Falls
 - location29 mi (47 km) north of Pecos, New Mexico
 - coordinates 35°58′34″N105°33′29″W / 35.97611°N 105.55806°W / 35.97611; -105.55806 [1]
 - elevation11,759 ft (3,584 m)
Mouth Rio Grande
 - location
Seminole Canyon, Val Verde County, 37 mi (60 km) northwest of Del Rio, Texas
 - coordinates
29°41′59″N101°22′17″W / 29.69972°N 101.37139°W / 29.69972; -101.37139 Coordinates: 29°41′59″N101°22′17″W / 29.69972°N 101.37139°W / 29.69972; -101.37139 [1]
 - elevation
1,115 ft (340 m)
Length926 mi (1,490 km) [2]
Basin size44,402 sq mi (115,000 km2) [2]
Discharge 
 - location IBWC station 08-4474.10 near Langtry, Texas [3]
 - average265 cu ft/s (7.5 m3/s) [3]
 - minimum42 cu ft/s (1.2 m3/s)
 - maximum152,910 cu ft/s (4,330 m3/s)
TypeWild, Recreational
DesignatedJune 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. [4] 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). [2]

New Mexico State of the United States of America

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 State of the United States of America

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.

Rio Grande River forming part of the US-Mexico border

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.

Contents

The name "Pecos" derives from the Keresan (Native American language) term for the Pecos Pueblo, [p'æyok'ona]. [5]

History

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:

Trans-Pecos

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.

Justice of the peace Judicial officer elected or appointed to keep the peace and do minor civic jobs

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.

Roy Bean American judge

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." [6]

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. [7] The Pecos River Settlement Agreement was signed between New Mexico and Texas in 2003. [8]

Dams

Multiple dams have been built along the Pecos River. Santa Rosa Lake is 117 miles/188 km east of Albuquerque. [9] Sumner Lake, formed by the 1939 Sumner Dam, is located between Santa Rosa and Fort Sumner, NM. [10] 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

Sumner Dam is a dam on the Pecos River in De Baca County in eastern New Mexico.

Carlsbad, New Mexico City in New Mexico, United States

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

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.

Wild and Scenic river

On June 6, 1990, 20.5 miles (33 km) of the Pecos Riverfrom 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". [11]

Pecos River Flume

Pecos River Flume Pecos River Flume 2.JPG
Pecos River Flume

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. [12] [13]

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.

See also

Related Research Articles

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Rio Grande Project

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Brantley Dam

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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.

References

  1. 1 2 U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: Pecos River
  2. 1 2 3 Largest Rivers of the United States, USGS
  3. 1 2 "Water Bulletin Number 75: Flow of the Rio Grande and Related Data; From Elephant Butte Dam, New Mexico to the Gulf of Mexico". International Boundary and Water Commission. 2005. Retrieved 17 July 2010.
  4. http://www.ose.state.nm.us/isc_pecos.html
  5. Bright, William (2004). Native American placenames of the United States. University of Oklahoma Press. p. 375. ISBN   978-0-8061-3598-4 . Retrieved 11 April 2011.
  6. Billy Hathorn, "Roy Bean, Temple Houston, Bill Longley, Ranald Mackenzie, Buffalo Bill, Jr., and the Texas Rangers: Depictions of West Texans in Series Television, 1955 to 1967", West Texas Historical Review , Vol. 89 (2013), p. 109
  7. "Pecos River Compact". state.nm.us.
  8. Pecos River Settlement Agreement
  9. "EMNRD". www.emnrd.state.nm.us.
  10. "EMNRD". www.emnrd.state.nm.us.
  11. Pecos Wild and Scenic River, New Mexico Archived 2010-06-10 at the Wayback Machine - National Wild and Scenic Rivers System
  12. Phil T. Archuletta; Sharyl S. Holden (June 2003). Traveling New Mexico: a guide to the historical and state park markers. Sunstone Press. pp. 116–. ISBN   978-0-86534-400-6 . Retrieved 3 December 2011.
  13. American Concrete Institute (2002). Concrete international. Design & construction. The Institute. Retrieved 3 December 2011.