Hobbs — the black gold rush city

Hobbs City Hall Photo by Phyllis Eileen Banks
Hobbs City Hall

Hobbs came into existence on January 28, 1910, with the opening of a post office named for the pioneering Hobbs family. For nearly two decades, the town remained isolated and inconvenient, a difficult place for settlers to wrest a living from the land.

All that changed, however, when the Midwest Refining Company (now Amoco) began drilling for oil near Hobbs on October 12, 1927. Soon the plains area was the stage for one of the great oil booms of the West. November 8, 1928, marked the No. 1 well’s depth of 4,220 feet producing 700 barrels of oil per day.

People arrived in Model T’s, airplanes, trucks and on foot. The population explosion brought on by the oil discovery resulted in Hobbs, New Hobbs and All Hobbs. Eventually these were all consolidated into one city, Hobbs. Only a few years later, during the depression years of the 1930s, the population began to diminish.

That did not last long, though, as renewed interest in drilling in 1934 led the city to the prosperity it has today. Hobbs, part of the Llano Estacado ("Staked Plains") and the Permian Basin, is located on U. S. Highway 62/180 in the southeastern corner of New Mexico about three miles from the Texas border. At an average elevation of 3,615 feet, the 32,000 people who live there enjoy the mild, dry climate, abundant sun and low humidity.

In addition to the oil and gas industry, dairy and ostrich farming are widespread. New Mexico Junior College, located in Hobbs on the Lovington Highway, took six years of community and legislative effort to establish and was the first Junior College in the state. It opened in the fall of 1966 with 728 students. Today it houses fifteen buildings on 243 acres with approximately 2,800 students. The College of the Southwest, also on the Lovington Highway, was established in 1956 under a different name and then became the College of the Southwest in 1962.

The city has numerous parks, one municipal and one country club golf course, lighted tennis courts, racketball courts, a swimming pool, jogging and bicycle trails. The Southwest Symphony presents concerts throughout the year, as does the Southwest Symphony Band.

Residents enjoy many annual events such as the Lea County Fair and Rodeo, Arts and Crafts Festival, Gus Macker Three-on-Three Tournaments, Frontier Days, Hoedown Days, Annual Christmas Parade and the Hobbs Holiday Basketball Tournament.

The Lea County Cowboy Hall of Fame and Western Heritage Center on the campus of New Mexico Junior College is a popular attraction. It was founded in 1978 to honor those residents of Lea County who have distinguished themselves in rodeo, as ranch cowboys, as pioneer or present day women on ranches. The New Mexico Wing of the Confederate Air Force is located in Hobbs. With a national membership of 7,000, the CAF has been locating, restoring and flying the aircraft that won World War II. The Soaring Society of America is headquartered in Hobbs, publishing a monthly magazine on phases of gliding and soaring. And the Seventh Wonder of the World, Carlsbad Caverns, is but a mere 90 miles to the southwest.

About Phyllis Eileen Banks