Oil and Water

Friday, November 29, 2013 Road Junkies 0 Comments

Alamogordo, NM to Big Spring, TX

Leaving Alamogordo, we headed east on US-82, through the Lincoln National Forms and the eastern slopes of the Sacramento Mountains.  East of Cloudcraft, we found a letterbox in the cemetery of a tiny rural church and continued on to the unincorporated village of Mayhill (elev. 6,580) (pictured above) in search of more treasure.  
Though the map's "scenic route" designation ended at Mayhill, the scenery continued to enchant as we drove through the foothills of the Sacramento Mountains—rolling hills covered by khaki, rocky soil.  It was clearly grazing land.  Numerous species of yucca, small shrubs and occasional dwarf junipers dotted the landscape.  It was a dramatic change from the Cloudcroft area we had just traversed, where tall Ponderosa pines covered the mountainsides.
Where Highway 82 intersected US-285, we stopped in the small town of Artesia (pop. 11,300).  As must be self-evident, the town was named for an artesian aquifer that nurtured agriculture in the area until it became depleted in the 1920s.
The Derrick Floor
Today the town's economy is driven by the oil and gas industry.  In 2004, a monument was erected to acknowledge its contributions.  The Derrick Floor, a life-size bronze sculpture depicts a four-man crew throwing the chain and "making a connection" on a drilling rig.  Cast by the same Wyoming foundry that produced Cattle Drive in Dallas, the work is the centerpiece of an oil pioneer plaza in downtown Artesia. The statue is dedicated to the men and women who find, produce and refine New Mexico oil and gas.  Now it also has a letterbox to draw additional visitors.
"Nodding donkeys" near Artesia
Leaving Artesia, the influence of the oil industry was evident in the hundreds of pumpjacks we saw in a huge oil field extending 60 miles east of town.  After a few insignificant stops in vain searches for letterboxes, we crossed into Texas and arrived at Big Spring, our destination for the night, around 6 p.m.  Tomorrow we'll continue to make our way across the Big Star State.  Will we make it out tomorrow?  Stay tuned.

A scrap metal roadrunner, mascot at an Alamogordo scrapyard