Portales is a city in and the county seat of Roosevelt County, New Mexico, United States. The population was 12,280 at the 2010 census. Portales is located near the larger city of Clovis as well as Cannon Air Force Base, a major contributor to the economy of the region.
Eastern New Mexico University opened in Portales in 1934 and has grown to become the third largest university in the state. Portales is one of the largest producers of Valencia peanuts in the United States and is the nation's top producer of Certified Organic peanut butter. Portales is home to over about 40 dairies and a major US dairy solids plant, together producing and exporting hundreds of millions of dollars of local milk products each year. Portales is the principal city of the Portales Micropolitan Statistical Area, which is part of the larger Clovis-Portales Combined Statistical Area, including Clovis, away and Cannon Air Force Base, away.
Clovis Man inhabited the Blackwater area north of Portales until 11,000 years ago. The Blackwater Draw Museum and Blackwater Archeological site are two of the most visited locations in the region. During Spanish rule in the 17th century, this area of New Mexico was named the "Llano Estacado" or "staked plains", a possible reference to the prominent and imposing yucca plants that dot the flat horizon of the Southwestern High Plains. Comanches ruled the area for part of the 19th century, but did not stay in one place.
The US territorial settlement of Portales occurred in the late 19th century as cattle herders discovered a water source emanating from a rocky ledge resembling a Spanish porch. The local watering hole took on the name "Portales", and a few settlers began ranching nearby. The City of Portales was formally established in 1909 with the arrival of the railroad to the Southwestern High Plains. The first Mayor of Portales was Washington Ellsworth Lindsey, who later became a state Governor of New Mexico.
The town developed in an orderly fashion through the early 20th century. Eastern New Mexico University was established in 1934 as the teacher's college. Originally a junior college, it became a four-year institution in the mid-20th century. The Great Depression brought several important Works Progress Administration (WPA) construction projects including the Eastern New Mexico University Administration Building, Downtown Portales Post Office, and Roosevelt County Courthouse. All three buildings are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.