Roswell Past & Present
New Mexico Military Institute (NMMI)
In 1899, inspired by his father Henry’s descriptions of New Mexico, Francis Boyer left his family in Georgia and accompanied by two companions, started walking west to find an area where they could settle and build a community. Eventually they found a suitable area in southeastern New Mexico and the community of Blackdom was founded. It was located fifteen miles south of Roswell. The town was incorporated in 1903 by thirteen African Americans which formed the Blackdom Townsite Company. Its goals were unusual among other towns incorporated in the area in that the articles of incorporation explicitly state that they would establish a system of education and would “improve the health, welfare and prosperity of such inhabitants.”
The community’s exact population is unknown, but estimates suggest between 150 and 300 persons. The residents of Blackdom established a community school, initially housed in the church. Many lived on farms, but Blackdom also developed a small village that gained its own US post office in 1912. The village opened a store, a new church, a pumping plant, and an office building.
The area began to empty out in the 1920s after a few years of less than average rainfall and low crop prices post-World War I. Oil speculators gave the remaining residents some hope of prosperity but the fields were not commercially viable, prompting oil activity in the Roswell Basin to come to an end. The Great Depression spelled the final decline of the town.
The Roswell Incident
Forging New Ground in Air and Space Travel
In 1967, Walker Air Force Base was decommissioned and the city had to reinvent itself. Walker Air Force Base became the Roswell Air Center which serves as a regional airport with daily flights to and from Dallas/Fort Worth and Phoenix in addition to supporting other aviation-related businesses. As an airplane storage facility, it stored hundreds of jetliners at the peak of the COVID-19 lockdown in 2020.
In 2012, Roswell made history and again became the center of science and adventure, when “Fearless” Felix Baumgartner departed from the Roswell Air Center in a balloon up into the stratosphere, jumping from a world record 128,100 ft. (39,045 meters) and returned safely back to Earth. Baumgartner also set the record for the highest manned balloon flight and fastest speed of a freefall at 834 mph (1,342 kilometers per hour), making him the first human to break the sound barrier outside of a vehicle.
Roswell capitalizes on its pleasant climate and as a great place to live, work and visit. What will the future hold? Based on our history, the city will continue to be an off-the-beaten-path yet ideal place for adventure and innovation.