Pecos River Near Malaga

A Salty Tale in Several Parts

1.   Meeting the Pecos southwest of Nash Draw

We start from Carlsbad and drive on US highway 285 toward Loving, and a few miles before that town we turn off to the left onto NM route 31, which is the main route into Nash Draw from the south. We stop where the road crosses the Pecos. In the first photo we are under the traffic bridge we have just crossed, looking upstream at water coming from under the railroad bridge to the north of us (there are two braids of the river here, this is just one of them):

Next we look downstream from near the same spot and meet one of the many small lakes formed on this river where there is not much relief (it is pretty flat in these spots so the river spreads out and relaxes for a while).

What I am (hence we are) interested in is what the lay of the land is at the southern extremity of the Laguna Grande de la Sal, the Great Salt Lake of Nash Draw, where the now defunct salt works of the US Refining Company are located (and salt is now being loaded onto freight trains from the salt piles --to the left in the next photo-- salt deposited there many years ago).

I had heard that these salt works brought water in from the Pecos river for their sanitary, culinary, and production purposes. It was not hard to find evidence for that water- importing system:

Note that it slopes down toward the salt works from the river. There is a rise before one gets from here to the river.  In other words: there in no overland flow channel from Nash Draw into the Pecos River.  So river water was, no doubt, pumped up from the river, and then sent on its way to the salt-works by gravity.

Under two miles away. judging by eyeballing the size of the salt works' water tower (between the utility poles), we meet the river again and clearly see the rise that separates and protects  the river from the salty draw to its north:

Looking upstream shows a sizable expanse of water, another lake on this river.

Looking under the bridge, one can see the amount of flow in the river at this point.

On the other side of the bridge the river is in a narrower channel, until it reaches yet another area where there is a virtual lake, as there was before the water reached the bridge.

What we will do now is struggle alongside this narrower channel and occasionally look at it, until it breaks out into a larger water-body once more:

The narrower channel flows directly into yet another lake on this river, but the channel is broken in several places to also allow side-flow into this lake:

Now we are moving away from the narrower channel:

We had to move away from narrower channel to get a better view of the next lake on the river (the ridge on the left separates this water from the narrower channel, with several breaks to allow easy water access):

Now it is time to move on, to drive south and see where we can access the river next.  

A little distance away from the river now, we look back to see its path marked by a line of vegetation in what otherwise looks like a hay field.  Behind the river, marked by some darker vegetation, is the rise separating the river from Nash Draw with an oil-drilling rig (the whitish tower) visible on the draw's southern edge.

Where we next encounter the river by road is near where the Black River ends, flowing into and joining the Pecos.

Where the Black meets the Pecos (2)

The first bend east of Malaga (3)

A salty tale at Malaga Bend (4)

Watching the Pecos go 'round the second bend (5)

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