Roswell is a city in and the county seat of Chaves County in the southeastern quarter of the state of New Mexico, United States. It is a center for irrigation farming, dairying, ranching, manufacturing, distribution, and petroleum production. It is also the home of New Mexico Military Institute (NMMI), founded in 1891. Bitter Lake National Wildlife Refuge is located a few miles northeast of the city on the Pecos River.
Roswell is most popularly known for having its name attached to what is now called the 1947 Roswell UFO incident, even though the actual crash site was some seventy-five miles from Roswell and closer to Corona. However, the investigation and debris recovery was handled by the local Roswell Army Air Field.
In 1877, Captain Joseph Calloway Lea and his family bought out Smith and Wilburn’s claim and became the owners of most of the land of Roswell and the area surrounding it. The town was relatively quiet during the Lincoln County War (1877-1879). A major aquifer was discovered when merchant Nathan Jaffa had a well drilled in his back yard on Richardson Avenue in 1890, resulting in the area’s first major growth and development spurt. The growth continued when a railroad was built through town in 1893.
Roswell was a location of military importance from 1941 to 1967, at which time Walker Air Force Base was decommissioned. After the closure of the base, Roswell capitalized on its pleasant climate and reinvented itself as a retirement community. Roswell has benefited from interest in the alleged UFO incident, and in more recent times the business community has deliberately sought out tourists interested in UFOs.