Blackwater Draw offers history

Compiled by Mike Jimenez

For a daytrip that is much closer to home and doesn’t require much more than 15 minutes of driving time, visit the Blackwater Draw Museum outside Portales.
This museum was opened to the public in 1969 as a means of displaying artifacts found at the Blackwater Locality No. 1 site. These artifacts and displays within the museum are used to describe and interpret life at the archaeological site from Clovis times according to the museum’s brochure. This was a period approximately 13,000 years ago.
According to the brochure, Blackwater Draw was first discovered in 1929 by a Clovis resident named Ridgely Whiteman who recognized the importance of such a site. Blackwater Draw has been studied by numerous organizations such as the Carnegie Institute, Smithsonian Institution, Academy of Natural Sciences, National Science Foundation and others. Blackwater Draw site has been declared a National Historic Landmark and incorporated into the National Register of Historic Places.

What is it:
There are two separate locations for the Blackwater Museum and Blackwater Draw Locality No. 1 site.
The site was first recognized in 1929 and is located within the Blackwater Draw near Portales. According to the brochure, it is one of the most well known and significant sites in North American archaeology. Early investigations at Blackwater Draw recovered evidence of human occupation in association with Late Pleistocene megafauna, including Columbian mammoth, ancient bison, large horses and large turtles.
Besides artifacts and displays explaining the site, the museum also has “touch and feel” exhibits for children, with parking for RV’s, and picnic and camping facilities are available nearby.

Where is it:
The museum is located approximately five miles east of Portales on U.S 70 on the right. From Clovis it is approximately 14 miles west. To find Blackwater Draw Locality No. 1 site from Portales, drive east on U.S. 70 and turn left on NM 467, headed north, about five miles on the left. From Clovis take 467 south, approximately 12 miles. The turnoff to the site is a short distance north of Oasis State Park.
Admission fees are $3 for adults (16-59), $2 for seniors (over 60), $1 for children (6-15), and children 5 and under are free. Admission includes the price of both museum and archaeological site. Free admission is provided on the fourth Sunday of each month. All Civic and Educational Group tours should be arranged prior to arrival.

The hours of operation are Tuesday through Saturday: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday noon to 5 p.m. The museum may be closed during major holidays.

For further information, call the museum at 562-2202, or the site at 356-5235.