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Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Some Caverns road history, June 1927 - February 1951

Some Early Park Road and "Connected" Roads History

June 1927      First entrance road through the lower part of Walnut Canyon was constructed by State of New Mexico. (Road left the canyon about half way down present road and topped the ridge south of drainage near old rock quarry.) Parking terrace west of Cavern entrance built. Crisman Chronology

Park Entrance Sign, 1929

Park road, 1936,
 looking west

May 1934       Construction started on present route of Walnut Canyon entrance road. 

Road was opened to traffic in late 1934 and paved in 1935. (Note: Major portions of the road washed out in 1941 floods and remained unpaved until September 1947.) A fatality occurred during construction of this road, caused by a cyanamide blast on August 8.

November 1937       Construction of parking area east of elevator building started.

March 1938       Paving started on major approach roads (highways) to the park, including Hwy. 62/180 between Carlsbad and El Paso and Carlsbad-Hobbs, plus Highway 285 between Roswell and Vaughn.

1940      Paving completed on three major approach highways to caverns.

November 1941       Unusually heavy rainfall with 43.28 inches for the year. Flooding caused some damage to the entrance road in June, and very heavy damage in September when 5 crossings and major sections of the road washed out.

August 1946       Flooding in Walnut Canyon damaged two road/stream crossings and washed out 1,000 feet of shoulder and ditches on the Big Hill. Water also ran into the cavern entrance and flooded the floor of the Auditorium.

September 1946       Another cloudburst resulting in road damage which affected travel for two days. Repairs took several months and over 300 cubic yards of material. Road to Oak Springs also damaged.

November 1946       Highway 62-180 from Carlsbad to park widened (completed in 1947).

1947       Discussions started with Regional Director of the Bureaus of Public Roads about a proposed new entrance road on ridge south of Walnut Canyon. This supplemental route was desired because of recurring floods in the Canyon.

January 1949      (17th)  Park entrance road closed due to hazardous conditions from ice and snow. This was the first day since the 1941 flood when there were no visitors to the Cavern. Park opened late 2 other days in January to allow clearing of snow.

February 1951     Parking area at elevator building expanded by 460 spaces with construction east ramps, and entrance road into parking area rerouted. Existing west ramp had capacity of 375 cars.

Information from Bob Crisman Chronology, 1986
Photo Research, Former Caverns Seasonal Betty Cogdill

Thanks for asking, Larry.  o(*L*)o






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