DescriptionSo numerous were the herds of cattle driven through this small farming community in the mid-1880s that the Denver & Fort Worth Railroad established the settlement as a division point. As a railhead and trading center, Clayton underwent a Wild West phase. Celebrated train robber Black Jack Ketchum was hanged from a gallows enclosed in a stockade to foil yet another rescue by his gang.
Clayton, at the foot of the Rabbit Ear Mountains, is still a cattle town; some of the largest feedlots in the region are just to the north. It also is one of the world's largest producers of carbon dioxide, which is used for recovering oil in the Permian Basin in New Mexico and Texas.
Livestock studies are conducted at Clayton Livestock Research Center, 5 miles east in the Kiowa and Rita Blanca National Grasslands. The University of New Mexico and the U.S. Forest Service investigate problems related to the health, nutrition and management of cattle. Phone (575) 374-2566.
Recreational opportunities abound at Clayton Lake State Park, known for its excellent trout, catfish, walleye and bass fishing. Dinosaur tracks were first discovered on the spillway of the dam in 1982; since then more than 500 tracks have been plotted.
Visitor InfoClayton-Union County Chamber of Commerce 1103 S. First St. CLAYTON, NM 88415. Phone:(575)374-9253 or (800)390-7858
Things to SeeThe Herzstein Memorial Museum