Artesia History & Culture

"Artesia" is our town's third name. The first name was "Miller," which came from a railroad employee. For a brief time we were known as "Stegman" after the first postmistress, none other than Sallie Chisum Robert Stegman. Sallie dropped the "Stegman" from her name soon after her divorce, and with the discovery of artesian wells in the area, the fledgling town was renamed "Artesia" in 1903 and officially incorporated in 1905.

Artesia became an agricultural oasis until the early 1920s when many of the area's artesian wells began to dwindle. Fortunately, in 1924 another kind of well was discovered when the Illinois #3 oil well came in, opening up the Artesia oil fields locally and the Permian Basin regionally.

Today, the oil and gas industry continues to flourish in the Artesia area along with farming, ranching, dairies, small businesses and the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center. With a population of 12,000, Artesia, nestled in the Pecos Valley, may be New Mexico's "Best Kept Secret."

Community Culture

The Artesia Historical Museum and Art Center offers a variety of art and historical exhibits, with local artists contributing many of these exhibits. Local artists have also contributed to Heritage Walkway, colorful murals in downtown Artesia which provide a mini-view of Artesia's history.

At the Artesia Public Library, visitors can select from over 50,000 books and numerous magazines and cassettes. Children delight in the model dinosaurs and puzzles located in the children's room.

The Artesia Arts Council, the Artesia school system, the Community Concert Association, and local civic organizations provide a number of cultural events. Guy Lombardo, Louise Mandrell, Roy Clark, and Michael Martin Murphy are some of the stars who have performed at the Artesia High School auditorium.

The Artesia Arts Council offers workshops in painting, photography, and writing. The Artesia Arts Council also sponsors Art in the Park, a popular arts festival held each October. The Artesia Chorale and the Artesia Community Theater provide opportunities for participation, as well as entertainment.

Moviegoers have the choice of two indoor movie screens at the Land of the Sun.

Over the last few years, Artesia has seen a major makeover with Artesia Mainstreet projects including: Heritage Walkway, Heritage Plaza, Hwy 285, Mainstreet and the Historic Depot Renovation Project.

Artesia is on the move with many positive economic development projects and beautification projects throughout the community. The City of Artesia looks forward to celebrating our Centennial and preparing for the next 100 years.