The story of how ATSF came to Roswell and the Pecos Valley is a bit complex.
Pecos River Valley had tempted the ATSF for years. In 1878, the company’s first charter in New Mexico had included a route southwards from Las Vegas and along the Pecos to Texas. In the mid-1880s, several lines radiating from the Roswell area were surveyed.
By 1891 the Pecos Valley Railway stretched from Pecos, Texas north to present day Carlsbad, NM. The tracks reached Roswell in 1894. At the time, fruit was the Pecos Valley’s principal crop. The market was in the north, but the railroad connected to southern markets. A route north out of Roswell was needed. The ATSF came to the rescue with critical financing.
After some very difficult challenges–weather, finances, inefficient contractors–the line north of Roswell opened for business on March 1, 1899. Cattle traffic was brisk.
By 1901, the Santa Fe had taken control of the line.
Charles Goodnight’s name for the Pecos Valley was “The Graveyard of Hope.” As the ATSF helped commerce to flourish in Roswell and along the valley, the moniker was no longer deserved.