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 Carlsbad Caverns National Park
 Park History

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Introduction     Plan Your Visit      Cave Tours      Surface Activities     Park History














There are many aspects of Park History, including:

* Cultural History
* Civilian Conservation Corps
* Legislative History
* and Chronology of the Caverns


Cultural History

The park’s cultural resources represent a long and varied continuum of human use starting in prehistoric times, and illustrating many adaptations to the Chihuahuan Desert environment. Human activities, including prehistoric and historic American Indian occupations, European exploration and settlement, industrial exploitation, commercial and cavern accessibility development, and tourism have each left reminders of their presence, and each has contributed to the rich and diverse history of the area. The park has two historic districts on the National Register of Historic Places—the Cavern Historic District and the Rattlesnake Springs Historic District. The park museum, including the park archives, contains about 1,000,000 cultural resource specimens that are being preserved and protected for future generations.

Civilian Conservation Corps

CCC enrollees built many of the now-historic structures at Carlsbad Caverns National Park. From 1938 through 1942, they built residences, offices and rock walls; they dug ditches and constructed roads; they quarried rocks and made adobe bricks. In celebration of the 70th anniversary of the founding of the CCC and the National Park Service’s role, please visit The Civilian Conservation Corps and the National Park Service, 1933-1942: An Administrative History. Photos are also available of the camp at Carlsbad Caverns—NP-1-N.

Caverns Chronology

Carlsbad Cavern is one of over 300 limestone caves in a fossil reef laid down by an inland sea 250 to 280 million years ago. Twelve to fourteen thousand years ago, American Indians lived in the Guadalupe Mountains; some of their cooking ring sites and pictographs have been found within the present day boundaries of the park. By the 1500s, Spanish explorers were passing through present-day west Texas and southeastern New Mexico. Spain claimed the southwest until 1821 when Mexico revolted against her and claimed independence. Mexico, fighting the westward expansionist United States in the late 1840s, lost the southwest to the US. In 1850, New Mexico Territory was created, and for the next 30 years the cultural conflict between American Indians and the US government continued. Eddy, New Mexico, the future Carlsbad, was established in 1888 and New Mexico became a state in 1912.

The National Park Service website also offers additional historical information.


  Images and text courtesy of National Park Service.





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