The importance of Blackwater Draw was first recognized in 1929 by Ridgely Whiteman of Clovis, New Mexico. The Blackwater Locality No. 1 Site (located within Blackwater Draw near Portales, New Mexico) is one of the most well known and significant sites in North American archaeology. Early investigations at Blackwater Draw recovered evidence of a human occupation in association with Late Pleistocene fauna, including Columbian mammoth, camel, horse, bison, sabertooth cat and dire wolf.
Since its discovery, the Blackwater Locality No. 1 Site has been a focal point for scientific investigations by academic institutions and organizations from across the nation. The Carnegie Institute, Smithsonian Institution, Academy of Natural Sciences, National Science Foundation, United States National Museum, National Geographic Society and more than a dozen major universities either have funded or participated in research at Blackwater Draw.
Due to its tremendous long-term potential for additional research and to public interest, the site was incorporated into the National Register of Historic Places in 1982. More recently, it was declared a National Historic Landmark.
The Blackwater Draw Museum first opened to the public in 1969 primarily to display artifacts discovered at the Blackwater Locality No. 1 Site. Artifacts and displays describe and interpret life at the site from Clovis times (over 13,000 years ago) through the recent historic period. This museum, owned by Eastern New Mexico University, is under the direction of Dr. John Montgomery of ENMU in Portales.