National Historic Site
Blackwater Draw is one of the most well-known sites in North American archeology. Famous as the site where the Clovis Culture was discovered, today it is listed as a National Historic Site.
Gravel mining began at the site eight miles north of Portales in September 1932 with two horses dragging gravel from the ancient lake bed. As the operation progressed strange animal bones were noticed on the site. A Clovis gentleman named Ridgley Whiteman first took notice of the bones along with ancient points and reported the find to the Smithsonian Institute. The first professional investigation of the site was done between 1932 and 1936 by Dr. E.B. Howard and Dr. John Cotter.
Blackwater Draw Locality No. 1 is famous for its stratigraphic record in the sedimentary layers, which gives a unique record of activities in the area for the last 13,000 years. For years it was billed as the site of the oldest identified culture in North America. Later discoveries probably pre-date Blackwater in terms of human culture but at the time the Eastern New Mexico discoveries greatly pushed back the thinking in terms of North American cultures.
The site is maintained by Eastern New Mexico University. Research has continued at the site since its discovery and attracts archaeology experts and students from all over the world.
The Blackwater Museum built on U.S. 70 in 1969 was relocated to a new site on ENMU's campus in 2017 and provides interpretation of the Paleoindian culture for visitors as well as area students.
Museum hours are Tuesday-Saturday 9 a.m. to 12 noon and 1-5 p.m. and Sunday from 12-5 p.m. The site is open seasonally. For more information call 562-2202.