Serving Clovis, Portales and the Surrounding Communities

Looking to community to solve a photographic mystery

One of the fun things about my job is that folks expect the local chamber of commerce to know everything.

Including, very frequently, local history.

That might include someone trying to figure out where great-grandpa's homestead was or where the business granddad started in the 1930s might have been located.

I get a lot of calls from confused people who have an old Portales address that dated before all the street names got a change. They'll get to looking at present day maps trying to find that address with no luck. I'm a hero on those days because I have one of those old street maps and can set them straight with the facts.

If I don't have the facts, I'll just make something up that sounds good and will entertain folks. I might tell them a story like that, but I've got more conscience than my dad and I'll tell them I'm fibbing.

I do believe the folks that reach out to me would bite on about anything.

They'll bring in or send in all manner of items they think might be important to someone or that I can help them find a home for. Some cool, some not.

One guy brought me his ink pen collection. Just local gimme pens, nothing fabulous. Some I could remember from way back, most of them I could have picked up within the last couple of years. He insisted I keep them and find them a home. They're still in a drawer in my office somewhere.

Someone brought in a cool framed print of the old Portales train depot. I'd seen it before, but was pleased when they insisted I keep that artifact.

I've had people bring me old Chamber brochures and programs. One of those was early enough and in such good shape I had it framed and have it hanging in the hall.

Someone also left an old, early day ranching map of the area during open range. It showed the various ranches territories and the drift fences.

One chamber director in Florida got the ultimate history artifact recently when a man wrote a letter of confession for having plundered Native American burial sites as a lad. He enclosed the letter of explanation in a box with a human skull and other items.

By far the thing I like most is looking at old photographs.

I've looked at enough old photos from this area I can recognize a lot of the ones folks send or bring by. I know what a lot of the buildings looked like long ago in Portales and can often get folks oriented on what direction they're looking and some of the landmarks.

Last week a lady emailed me out of the blue wondering if I could identify a photo that she thought might have been taken in the area, maybe Clovis or Texico.

My first clue came before I opened the attachment. The file was named "Power plant." The photo was a picture of what appears to be an early 20th century coal-fired plant with three men and a boy in a big straw hat with a kitten and a horse and buggy.

They've stumped the local historian on this one but maybe you recognize the photo. If so, shoot me an email so I can straighten this lady out. I don't want to tell her this windy story I have cooked up.

Having seen photos of the Portales and Tucumcari city power plants I was pretty certain it wasn't from either place. I didn't really think it looked right for Clovis, but I don't have a clue about Texico.

Karl Terry writes for Clovis Media Inc. Contact him at:

[email protected]