Pecos River

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Coordinates: 29°41′59″N 101°22′17″W / 29.69972°N 101.37139°W / 29.69972; -101.37139
Pecos River
Río Pecos
Pecos river bridge.jpg
Country United States
States Texas, New Mexico
Source Pecos Falls
 - location 29 mi (47 km) north of Pecos, New Mexico
 - elevation 11,759 ft (3,584 m)
 - coordinates 35°58′34″N 105°33′29″W / 35.97611°N 105.55806°W / 35.97611; -105.55806 [1]
Mouth Rio Grande
 - location Seminole Canyon, Val Verde County, 37 mi (60 km) northwest of Del Rio, Texas
 - elevation 1,115 ft (340 m)
 - coordinates 29°41′59″N 101°22′17″W / 29.69972°N 101.37139°W / 29.69972; -101.37139 [1]
Length 926 mi (1,490 km) [2]
Basin 44,402 sq mi (115,001 km2) [2]
Discharge for IBWC station 08-4474.10 near Langtry, Texas
 - average 265 cu ft/s (8 m3/s) [3]
 - max 152,910 cu ft/s (4,330 m3/s)
 - min 42 cu ft/s (1 m3/s)
Map of the Rio Grande watershed, showing the Pecos River flowing through east New Mexico and west Texas, joining the Rio Grande near Del Rio.

The Pecos River is a river that flows through New Mexico and Texas, emptying into the Rio Grande. The headwaters of the Pecos River are located north of Pecos, New Mexico, United States, at an elevation of over 12,000 feet on the western slope of the Sangre de Cristo mountain range in Mora County.[4] The river flows for 926 miles (1,490 km) through the eastern portion of that state and neighboring Texas before it empties into the Rio Grande near Del Rio. The river's drainage basin is approximately 44,300 square miles (115,000 km2) in size.[2]


There are multiple dams along the Pecos River. Santa Rosa Lake is 117 miles/188 kM east of Albuquerque.[5] Sumner Lake, formed by the 1939 Sumner Dam, is located between Santa Rosa and Fort Sumner, NM.[6] 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.


The river was named "Pecos" by the Spanish from the Keresan name of the Pecos Pueblo, [p'æyok'ona].[7]

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 frontiers of the Wild West.

New Mexico and Texas disputed water rights to the river until the federal government settled the dispute in 1949 with the Pecos River Compact.[8] The Pecos River Settlement Agreement was signed between New Mexico and Texas in 2003.[9]

Wild and Scenic River[edit]

On June 6, 1990, 20.5 miles (33 km) of the Pecos River—from 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."[10]

Pecos River Flume[edit]

Pecos River Flume

The Flume is a modern 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.[11][12]

The Flume and its surrounding area have been reclaimed by the city of Carlsbad and has been transformed into a tourist attraction with park improvements along the river and spot lights to give a spectacular nightly view.

See also[edit]


External links[edit]