Our tows: Agriculture drives Portales

Cannon Connections: Alisa Boswell City Park in Portales is regularly visited by Portales residents for family fun, such as picnics, sports and time on the playground. It is also home to the Portales City Pool and a baseball field.

Alisa Boswell

By Alisa Boswell

Cannon Connections

Portales is a town rich in heritage and agriculture. The city was founded in 1894 as a farming and ranching community. The railroad was established in 1898, bringing in more homesteaders. The city of Portales would be formally established in 1909.

“Basically, it has its roots in a ranching campsite out near Portales Springs,” said Portales Chamber of Commerce executive director Karl Terry. “People who saw it thought it looked like the porches of a hacienda-style house and the word for that in Spanish is Portales. It was a place where they watered cattle real early in that century.”

Terry said agriculture is not the only thing that has remained constant for the city of Portales. The atmosphere of friendliness hasn’t changed either.

“My best memories of Portales was in the sixties and how the businesses were so active and you could walk into a business and they would know who you were,” Terry said. “We still have that heritage here and doing business in Portales is very easy because of that heritage. In the small-town atmosphere, we all know each other and things are very friendly here.”

Terry said one element that changed Portales for the better was the establishment of Eastern New Mexico University in 1934.

“It has been a big part of the economic force for the town,” Terry said. “I think the other thing ENMU does for our town is it gives us a lot of diversity that a lot of the small towns in our area don’t have. We have a diversity of education levels and a diversity of entertainment because of that.”

Portales Mayor Sharon King said she loves spending time with her friends in Portales, but has a few of her own favorite elements of the town.

“I like our walking path out at the softball complex,” King said. “I think it’s nice to go out there about the time the sun’s setting. It’s beautiful and there’s usually rabbits around so that’s fun.”

King said she also enjoys all of the cultural events the university brings to Portales, such as theater and music.

King said Tops in Blue has taken place in Portales for the last two years and the event being held in the ENMU Greyhound Arena has given more people than previously, the opportunity to hear Tops in Blue.

“I love the people of Portales,” King said. “I really believe that we have such great people here.”

Emily DeSoto, who has lived in Portales for the last two years, is a sophomore at ENMU. She said she enjoys the people of Portales and loves that the ENMU campus continually has activities and events to offer students and the community.

“I like the people here,” DeSoto said. “And I like that no matter where anyone lives in Portales, you can always get to their house in a short time so the fun can begin.”