Clovis, New Mexico

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Clovis, New Mexico
Norman Petty's NorVaJak Music, Inc.
Norman Petty's NorVaJak Music, Inc.
Official seal of Clovis, New Mexico
Motto: "A City On The Move - Come Grow With Us!"
Location of Clovis, New Mexico
Location of Clovis, New Mexico
Coordinates: 34°24′45″N 103°12′17″W / 34.41250°N 103.20472°W / 34.41250; -103.20472Coordinates: 34°24′45″N 103°12′17″W / 34.41250°N 103.20472°W / 34.41250; -103.20472
Country United States
State New Mexico
County Curry
Incorporated 1909[1]
 • Mayor David Lansford
 • City Manager Joe Thomas
 • Total 22.5 sq mi (58.2 km2)
 • Land 22.4 sq mi (58.0 km2)
 • Water 0.1 sq mi (0.3 km2)
Elevation 4,268 ft (1,301 m)
Population (2010)
 • Total 37,775
 • Density 1,458.9/sq mi (563.3/km2)
Time zone Mountain (MST) (UTC-7)
 • Summer (DST) MDT (UTC-6)
ZIP code 88101 88102
Area code(s) 505, 575
FIPS code 35-16420
GNIS feature ID 0915815

Clovis is the county seat of Curry County, New Mexico, United States, [2] with a population of 37,775 as of the 2010 census.[3]

Clovis is located in the New Mexico portion of the Llano Estacado, in the eastern part of the state. A largely agricultural community, it is also noted for its role in early rock music history[4] as well as nearby Cannon Air Force Base.

It is the principal city of the Clovis Micropolitan Statistical Area, which is part of the larger Clovis-Portales Combined Statistical Area.


The eastern New Mexico region was home to the prehistoric Clovis culture, an anthropologically significant early group of Native Americans. Several remains have been found at the Blackwater Draw site (south of Clovis, near Portales) which remains a historical and tourist site.

Clovis began in 1906, when the Atchison Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad was being constructed through the area and railway engineers were ordered to choose a town site.[5] At first known as Riley's Switch, it was renamed Clovis by the station master's daughter, who was studying about Clovis, the first Catholic king of the Franks, at the time.[6][full citation needed] The settlement built up quickly and in 1909 was incorporated.[6]

On January 23, 1942, after about a month of living under house arrest, Clovis' entire Japanese American population was "evacuated" by the Immigration and Naturalization Service to a small concentration camp outside Lincoln, New Mexico, one of the earliest actions in response to the attack on Pearl Harbor and the country's entry into World War II. (President Roosevelt's Executive Order 9066, issued a month later on February 19, would officially authorize the large-scale eviction of Japanese Americans from the West Coast.) Mostly railroad workers and their families, the 32 men, women and children did not return to Clovis after the war.[7][8]

On August 24, 2008, eight prisoners escaped from the Clovis Jail by shimmying up plumbing pipes. The escape was highlighted on the television show America's Most Wanted.[9]

Clovis celebrated its Centennial in 2009, a century after its founding.


Clovis is located at 34°24′45″N 103°12′17″W / 34.41250°N 103.20472°W / 34.41250; -103.20472 (34.412509, −103.204611).[10] at 4,281 feet (1,305 m) above sea level (1304 m) when located at its geographic center.[11]

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 22.5 square miles (58 km2), of which 22.4 square miles (58 km2) is land and 0.1 square miles (0.26 km2) of it (0.44%) is water from the several artificial ponds in Clovis' multiple public parks.

Portales, New Mexico, 17 miles (27 km) south, is home to Eastern New Mexico University and has a small variety of restaurants, furniture stores, and specialty shops. Medical care in Clovis is primarily provided by the Plains Regional Medical Center and in Portales by Roosevelt General Hospital.


As of the census[12] of 2000, there were 32,667 people, 12,458 households, and 8,596 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,458.9 people per square mile (563.3/km²). There were 14,269 housing units at an average density of 637.3 per square mile (246.1/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 71.3% White, 7.32% African American, 1.02% Native American, 1.62% Asian, 0.13% Pacific Islander, 14.98% from other races, and 3.63% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino were 33.44% of the population.

There were 12,458 households out of which 36.3% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 49.8% were married couples living together, 14.9% had a female householder with no husband present, and 31.0% were non-families. 26.8% of all households were made up of individuals and 10.3% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.57 and the average family size was 3.12.

In the city the population was 30.0% under the age of 18, 9.4% from 18 to 24, 28.1% from 25 to 44, 19.5% from 45 to 64, and 13.0% who were ages 65 or older. The median age was 33 years. For every 100 females there were 92.5 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 88.1 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $28,878, and the median income for a family was $33,622. Males had a median income of $26,586 versus $20,375 for females. The per capita income for the city was $15,561. About 17.2% of families and 21.0% of the population were below the poverty line, including 28.2% of those under age 18 and 14.6% of those age 65 or over.

Economics and industry[edit]

Like most of east-central New Mexico and west Texas, the vicinity plays host to significant agriculture and ranching activities, including peanut and cotton farming and cattle ranching used for both meat and dairy production. Several processing plants exist for these products; in 2004 construction began on the Southwest Cheese Company plant geographically located between Clovis and Portales. The plant commenced operations in late 2005 and provided a small boost to the local economy by employing over 200 personnel. It is one of the largest plants of its type in the world, processing milk provided by the numerous local dairies in excess of 2.3 billion pounds of milk annually.

The BNSF Railroad operates a division point and large freight classification yard on its Southern Transcon at Clovis, with a dispatchers office here monitoring traffic over the Belen Cutoff. This 235-mile rail corridor is one of the most heavily trafficked routes in the western United States, often with more than 100 mostly intermodal freight trains arriving and leaving Clovis daily.[13] The Southwestern Railroad, formerly the AT&SF Pecos Valley branch line, also connects to the BNSF here, shipping potash from mines near Carlsbad.

Clovis' location adjacent to Cannon Air Force Base, a special operations base has had a large impact on the community. Clovis hosts a local organization, the Committee of Fifty, whose stated purpose is to lobby to keep Cannon AFB open; it subsequently helped coordinate the successful campaign which resulted in the realignment of Cannon to its new special ops mission.[14]

Health care[edit]

Plains Regional Medical Center is the primary hospital serving Clovis. It is part of the Presbyterian Hospital system based in Albuquerque, New Mexico.[15]


Southwest, Spanish Mission, or Adobe architectural styles are prevalent, being considered representative of New Mexico. Much of Clovis architecture is indistinguishable from the group of styles prevalent throughout most small towns and suburbs since the 1930s.

The Hotel Clovis, a local landmark, opened on October 20, 1931. At the time of its construction it was the tallest building between Albuquerque and Dallas, Texas. The hotel was designed by architect Robert Merrill, combining an Art Deco exterior with Southwestern Indian interior. The elegant ballroom hosted such names as Louis Armstrong, Glenn Miller, Tommy Dorsey, and Hank Williams, however the nearby train depot supplied the hotel with most of its business. As such the hotel closed shortly after the Santa Fe Railroad discontinued passenger train service to Clovis in 1971. The building is currently being renovated into "affordable housing." As of January 2013, housing is being offered to the community on a first come-first served basis, with some apartments being available now, and others on an "as finished" basis.

Downtown Clovis has three historic movie theaters, including the State Theater.

Climate and landscape[edit]

Flooding caused by a thunderstorm, downtown Clovis (1980)

The climate is relatively temperate with low humidity and high winds. Summers are warm with occasional extreme heat and winters are cool with frequent, extreme cold. Severe thunderstorms are often in the spring with rainstorms prevalent during summer evenings. Tornadoes are known to occur and Clovis is located on the southern edge of Tornado Alley. Several inches of snowfall frequently occur each winter, typically for several weeks in January–February, often resulting in minor flooding due to the non-existent runoff system. High winds are common due to the flat, open land and regularly gust well above 30 MPH and average 12 MPH .[16] According to the Köppen Climate Classification system, Clovis has a semi-arid climate, abbreviated "BSk" on climate maps.[17]

Climate data for Clovis, New Mexico
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °F (°C) 79
Average high °F (°C) 51.1
Average low °F (°C) 23.4
Record low °F (°C) −12
Precipitation inches (mm) 0.48
Snowfall inches (cm) 2.5
Source: The Weather Channel[18]


Public education[edit]

Clovis is served by several public schools making up the Clovis Municipal Schools:

    • Arts Academy at Bella Vista
    • Barry Elem.
    • Cameo Elem.
    • Highland Elem.
    • James Bickley Elem.
    • La Casita Elem.
    • Lincoln-Jackson Pre-School
    • Lockwood Elem.
    • Los Ninos Pre-School
    • Mesa Elem.
    • Parkview Elem.
    • Ranchvale Elem.
    • Sandia Elem.
    • Zia Elem.

Private schools[edit]

Post-secondary education[edit]

For post-secondary education, there is one community college, Clovis Community College (CCC). Eastern New Mexico University is the nearest in nearby four-year college/university located in nearby[clarification needed] Portales, New Mexico.


Clovis gave its name to stone-age spear points that were found locally in 1929. Clovis points are the characteristically-fluted projectile points associated with the North American Clovis culture. These artifacts date to the Paleoindian period, approximately 13,500 years ago.[19]

The arts[edit]

Performances including music and drama often take place at Clovis Community College, Eastern New Mexico University, the Lyceum Auditorium as well as the Special Events Center, located adjacent to the county fairgrounds. The Clovis Music Festival is, locally, a high-profile event held annually at the beginning of September. The Clovis Civic Center is also known to host this and other entertainment events. The Special events center holds events such as rodeos, auctions, and concerts.

Popular music[edit]

Norman Petty Recording Studios in Clovis

The town achieved some local fame in the 1950s & 1960s being home to the Norman Petty Recording Studio, founded by musician Norman Petty. Along with his "Norman Petty Trio" topped charts with "Mood Indigo" and "Almost Paradise" in their lounge/pop style. Artists such as Buddy Holly, Buddy Knox, Jimmy Gilmer & The Fireballs, and The String-A-Longs had top charting hits recorded there (Holly's "Peggy Sue" was recorded there in July 1957). Artists including Waylon Jennings, Charlie "Sugartime" Phillips, Bobby Fuller and Roy Orbison cut their earliest recordings at the studio. From the late '50s to late '60s Petty had recordings on every major label in the USA & Canada.


Local radio stations have a small variety of content relatively typical of most of the United States, including music and talk broadcasting, but consists mostly of country and Spanish language music. Due to religious demographics of the area, Contemporary Christian music, as well as gospel (typically Protestant Christian) and other religious-themed broadcasts are common on local radio. Several Spanish-language stations are tunable, broadcasting largely Mexican music and a proportion of Christian-themed content, also mostly music. Several stations are rebroadcast to Clovis including Albuquerque's M88 (KLYT) found at 88.1 MHz.

Notable people[edit]


  1. ^ "About Clovis, NM". Retrieved October 6, 2007. 
  2. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved 2011-06-07. 
  3. ^ "Table 4: Annual Estimates of the Population for Incorporated Places in New Mexico, Listed Alphabetically: April 1, 2000 to July 1, 2007 (SUB-EST2007-04-35)". US Census Bureau, Population Division. December 3, 2008. Retrieved July 15, 2008. 
  4. ^ "History of Petty Studios, Clovis, NM". 
  5. ^
  6. ^ a b
  7. ^ "Old Raton (detention facility)" Densho Encyclopedia. Retrieved June 23, 2014.
  8. ^ Russell, Andrew B. "The Nikkei in New Mexico" (April 30, 2008) Discover Nikkei. Retrieved June 23, 2014.
  9. ^ Johnson, Sharna. "'America's Most Wanted' to air inmate escape Saturday." Clovis News Journal, September 3, 2008. Retrieved on Sep. 21, 2008.
  10. ^ "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. 2011-02-12. Retrieved 2011-04-23. 
  11. ^
  12. ^ "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  13. ^ Fred W. Frailey, "Birthplace of the Transcon," Trains magazine, April 2007
  14. ^ "Operation Keep Cannon"
  15. ^
  16. ^ "Average Wind Speeds". Historical Climate Information. Western Regional Climate Center. 2006. 
  17. ^ Climate Summary for Clovis, New Mexico
  18. ^ "Average Weather for Clovis, NM – Temperature and Precipitation". Retrieved April 4, 2011. 
  19. ^ "A Clovis Spear Point". Archaeological Research Center. South Dakota State Historical Society. February 13, 2004. 
  20. ^
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External links[edit]