Artesia — water and oil wells

Artesia City Hall. Photo by Phyllis Eileen Banks
Artesia City Hall. Photo by Phyllis Eileen Banks

In 1903 when artesian wells were discovered, the town known as Stegman was renamed Artesia. Water spouted as high as twenty feet. Early settlers were attracted to this plentiful water supply and established an agricultural and farming community. Unfortunately the wells were allowed to flow unchecked and the water table dropped.

Now, however, in this city of 12,000, the water supply is continually replenished with runoff from the Sacramento Mountains about 90 miles to the west.

Originally Artesia was a part of John Chisum’s ranching empire in the late 1870s. Today cattle and sheep ranching, alfalfa, cotton, chile and pecan farming are important staples of the economy. In addition, oil was discovered in 1924 and opened up the regional Permian Basin. The Navajo Refinery dominates the eastern side of U. S. Highway 285 as you enter the city.

The Federal Law Enforcement Training Center opened here in 1989, bringing people from all over the world for specialized law enforcement training.

"Artesia Pride" is the motto of this community at 3,380 feet elevation with an average winter temperature of 60 degrees high and 25 degrees low. The climate is dry with 12 to 13 inches of precipitation annually.

The Arts Council promotes fine arts and crafts, a Community Chorale and Community Theater. There are other ways to spend leisure time, too. Artesia boasts eight parks, a nine-hole golf course, eight tennis courts, nine soccer fields, thirteen baseball fields, seven softball fields, and four handball courts. The library, in addition to books, has access to the Internet. The Eddy County Fairgrounds has many events throughout the year.

There are excellent medical facilities with a General Hospital affiliated with Presbyterian Health-care Services, and the Good Samaritan Center providing long-term care to Artesia residents.

There are several area attractions, too. South is Brantley Dam, Sitting Bull Falls, Living Desert State Park or Carlsbad Caverns. Drive north forty miles to Roswell and visit the Roswell Museum and Art Center, the International UFO Museum, Bottomless Lakes, Bitter Lake Wildlife Refuge or the Anderson Museum of Contemporary Art.

About Phyllis Eileen Banks