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Clovis, New Mexico
City of Clovis
Main Street in September 2015
Main Street in September 2015
Official seal of Clovis, New Mexico
"A City On The Move – Come Grow With Us!"
Location of Clovis, New Mexico
Location of Clovis, New Mexico
Clovis, New Mexico is located in the United States
Clovis, New Mexico
Clovis, New Mexico
Location in the United States
Country United States
State New Mexico
County Curry
Incorporated 1909
 • Total 23.79 sq mi (61.62 km2)
 • Land 23.63 sq mi (61.19 km2)
 • Water 0.17 sq mi (0.43 km2)
4,268 ft (1,301 m)
 • Total 37,775
 • Estimate 
 • Density 1,621.97/sq mi (626.26/km2)
Time zone UTC−7 (Mountain (MST))
 • Summer (DST) UTC−6 (MDT)
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, with a population of 37,775 as of the 2010 census, and a 2019 estimated population of 38,319. Clovis is located in the New Mexico portion of the Llano Estacado, in the eastern part of the state.

A largely agricultural community, closely bordering Texas, it is noted for its role in early rock music history and for nearby Cannon Air Force Base. After the discovery of several "Clovis culture" sites in eastern North America in the 1930s, the Clovis people came to be regarded as the first human inhabitants who created a widespread culture in the New World. Clovis people are considered to be the ancestors of most of the indigenous cultures of the Americas. The Atchison, Topeka, & Santa Fe Railway system helped to establish Clovis over a hundred years ago, and for that railroad and its successor BNSF Railway continues to be a major hub of operations. Also notable is the Southwest Cheese Company, the largest cheddar cheese producer in North America.

It is the principal city of the Clovis Micropolitan statistical area, which is part of the larger Clovis-Portales CSA.


The eastern New Mexico region was home to the prehistoric Clovis culture, an anthropologically significant group of early 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 Railway was being constructed through the area and railway engineers were ordered to choose a town site. 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. The settlement built up quickly and in 1909 was incorporated.

Clovis had first attracted human beings and then was able to persuade them to remain in this area over 12,000 years ago. The earliest residents are known as Clovis Man, named after an arrow-head or spear-point found near present-day Clovis. These prehistoric people have been believed to have emigrated across the Bering Strait many, many years ago as they followed migrations of the now extinct mammoth, bison, and early forms of the camel and horse. Since the most recent ice age retreated north, these nomadic hunters known as the Clovis Man remained in the Southwestern part of New Mexico and began to adapt for their survival.

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.

Clovis celebrated its centennial in 2009.


Clovis is located in southeastern Curry County at 34°24′45″N 103°12′17″W / 34.41250°N 103.20472°W / 34.41250; -103.20472 (34.412509, −103.204611), 9 miles (14 km) west of the Texas border. The city's geographic center is at an elevation of 4,281 feet (1,305 m) above sea level.

U.S. Routes 60, 70, and 84 pass through the city. US 60 and 84 lead west 60 miles (97 km) to Fort Sumner, while US 70 leads southwest 19 miles (31 km) to Portales and 110 miles (180 km) to Roswell. The three highways lead east together to the state line at Texico, New Mexico, and Farwell, Texas. Cannon Air Force Base is 7 miles (11 km) west of the center of Clovis.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 22.9 square miles (59.3 km2), of which 22.7 square miles (58.8 km2) is land and 0.2 square miles (0.4 km2), or 0.73%, is water from the several artificial ponds in Clovis' multiple public parks.


Historical population
Census Pop.
1910 3,255
1920 4,904 50.7%
1930 8,027 63.7%
1940 10,065 25.4%
1950 17,318 72.1%
1960 23,713 36.9%
1970 28,495 20.2%
1980 31,194 9.5%
1990 30,954 −0.8%
2000 32,667 5.5%
2010 37,775 15.6%
2020 38,567 2.1%
U.S. Decennial Census

As of the census 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, 7.3% Black, 1.0% Native American, 1.6% Asian, 0.1% Pacific Islander, 15.0% from other races, and 3.6% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino were 33.4% 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.

Clovis has a population of 39,860 since the year 2014 and since the year 2000 the population increased by twenty-two percent. The number of males and females in the Clovis population are very close in numbers; there are approximately 20,451 males and 19,409 females. Almost 47% of the population in Clovis is Anglo-Saxon, 42% is Hispanic, 7% is African-American, 2% are two different races, and less than 2% is Asian. Cannon Air Force Base, which is located 10 miles west of the city, has increased the wide variety of people throughout the past several years. The population is spread throughout 22.9 square miles, which compared to other towns nearby, is rather large.

The income for a household, as of 2015, was about $41,000 for the city of Clovis but for the state of New Mexico as a whole, it averaged around $45,382.


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. 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, and the nearby train depot supplied the hotel with most of its business. 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

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 miles per hour (48 km/h; 13 m/s) and average 12 miles per hour (19 km/h; 5 m/s). According to the Köppen Climate Classification system, Clovis has a semi-arid climate, abbreviated BSk on climate maps.

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


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.

The arts

Performances including music and drama often take place at Clovis Community College, Eastern New Mexico University, and the Lyceum Auditorium, as well as at 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 hosts this and other entertainment events. The Special Events Center holds events such as rodeos, auctions, and concerts.

Popular music

Norman Petty Studios
Norman Petty Recording Studios in Clovis

The town achieved some local fame in the 1950s and 1960s when it was home to the Norman Petty Recording Studio, founded by musician Norman Petty, whose "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 the late '60s Petty had recordings on every major label in the USA and Canada.

Economics and industry

Clovis airport
Sign at Clovis airport

Like most of east-central New Mexico and west Texas, the surrounding area 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 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.

In 1995, the Santa Fe was merged into the BNSF Railway, which operates a division point and large freight classification yard on its Southern Transcon at Clovis, with a dispatcher's office monitoring traffic over the Belen Cutoff. This 235-mile (378 km) 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. The Southwestern Railroad, formerly the AT&SF Pecos Valley branch line, connects to the BNSF here, shipping potash from mines near Carlsbad.

Clovis is home to Cannon Air Force Base (the 27th Special Operations Wing), Burlington Northern Railroad, the Southwest Cheese Plant, Cummins-Natural Gas Engines, and many locally owned and operated businesses. This community also is surrounded by thousands of acres of farming, ranching, and dairy land. Agriculture is thus a mainstay of the local economy. Many high-school students participate in FFA (Future Farmers of America), where they learn about agriculture. Many local jobs depend on this sector of the economy. According to, the 2016 cost of living index for Clovis was around 83.5, which is well below the national average.

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.

Clovis Municipal Airport provides a base for general aviation and daily service by Key Lime Air to and from Denver International Airport and Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport.

In addition to the agricultural, military and railroading sectors, music has contributed to the economy of Clovis almost since the city originated. Norman Petty Studio in Clovis is where several different artists have recorded; one of the most famous is Buddy Holly.


Public education

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

  • Elementary 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. [Permanently Closed]
    • Sandia Elem.
    • Zia Elem.
  • Middle schools
    • Gattis Middle School
    • Marshall Middle School
    • Yucca Middle School
  • Junior high school
    • Clovis High School Freshman Campus
  • High school
    • Clovis High School

Private schools

Post-secondary education

For post-secondary education, there is one community college, Clovis Community College (CCC). Eastern New Mexico University is the nearest university, located 20 miles (32 km) south in Portales.

Notable people

  • D.J. Brigman, PGA Tour golfer
  • Dolores Crow, Idaho state legislator
  • Nathan Hecht, Chief Justice of the Texas Supreme Court
  • Matt Othick, retired NBA player
  • Norman Petty, musician, songwriter, record producer

See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Clovis (Nuevo México) para niños

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