Clovis is a city in and the county seat of Curry County, New Mexico. The city had a population of 37,775 as of the 2010 census, and a 2020 census population of 38,567. Clovis is located in the New Mexico portion of the Llano Estacado, in the eastern part of the state.
A largely agricultural community, closely bordering Texas, it is noted for its role in early rock music history and for nearby Cannon Air Force Base, current home to the 27th Special Operations Wing which is also known as "The Steadfast Line". A Paleo-Indian site was found near Clovis, where in 1929 a distinctive kind of stone spear-point was discovered. These points were called Clovis points, and the culture associated with them was named the Clovis culture. The Clovis people came to be regarded as the first human inhabitants who created a widespread culture in the New World. Clovis people are considered to be the ancestors of most of the indigenous cultures of the Americas. The Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway system helped establish Clovis over one hundred years ago, which continues to be a major hub of operations for that railroad and its successor, BNSF Railway. Also notable is the Southwest Cheese Company, the largest cheddar cheese producer in North America.
The Eastern New Mexico region was home to the prehistoric Clovis culture, an anthropologically significant group of early Native Americans. Several remains have been found at the Blackwater Draw site (south of Clovis, near Portales), which remains a historical and tourist site.
Clovis began in 1906, when the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway was being constructed through the area and railway engineers were instructed to "locate and buy the first level section of land west of Texico" on which to build a town site and railroad facilities. The land was bought on October 2, 1906, and the railroad began offering town lots for sale on May 1, 1907. At first known as "Riley's Switch", the town was reportedly renamed Clovis by the station master's daughter, who was studying about Clovis, the first Catholic king of the Franks, at the time. The settlement built up quickly and in 1909 was incorporated.
On August 24, 2008, eight prisoners escaped from the Clovis Jail by shimmying up plumbing pipes. The escape was highlighted on the television show America's Most Wanted.
Clovis celebrated its centennial in 2009.
The Clovis Carver Public Library was the site of a mass shooting in August 2017 in which two people were killed and four wounded.
In 2023, the FW1 Ute Reservoir pipeline project started construction to provide potable water by 2030 for Cannon Air Force Base and the communities of Clovis, Portales, Elida, Texico.
Like most of east-central New Mexico and west Texas, the surrounding area plays host to significant agriculture and ranching activities, including peanut and cotton farming and cattle ranching used for both meat and dairy production. Several processing plants exist for these products; in 2004 construction began on the Southwest Cheese Company plant between Clovis and Portales. The plant commenced operations in late 2005 and provided a small boost to the local economy by employing over 200 personnel. It is one of the largest plants of its type in the world, processing milk provided by the numerous local dairies in excess of 2.3 billion pounds of milk annually.
In 1995, the Santa Fe was merged into the BNSF Railway, which operates a division point and large freight classification yard on its Southern Transcon at Clovis, with a dispatcher's office monitoring traffic over the Belen Cutoff. This 235-mile (378 km) rail corridor is one of the most heavily trafficked routes in the western United States, often with more than 100 mostly intermodal freight trains arriving and leaving Clovis daily. The Southwestern Railroad, formerly the AT&SF Pecos Valley branch line, connects to the BNSF here, shipping potash from mines near Carlsbad.
Clovis is home to Cannon Air Force Base (the 27th Special Operations Wing), Burlington Northern Railroad, the Southwest Cheese Plant, Cummins-Natural Gas Engines, and many locally owned and operated businesses. This community also is surrounded by thousands of acres of farming, ranching, and dairy land. Agriculture is thus a mainstay of the local economy. Many high-school students participate in FFA (Future Farmers of America), where they learn about agriculture. Many local jobs depend on this sector of the economy. According to City-Data.com, the 2016 cost of living index for Clovis was around 83.5, which is well below the national average.
Clovis' location adjacent to Cannon Air Force Base, a special operations base, has had a large impact on the community. Clovis hosts a local organization, the Committee of Fifty, whose stated purpose is to lobby to keep Cannon AFB open; it subsequently helped coordinate the successful campaign which resulted in the realignment of Cannon to its new special ops mission.
Clovis Municipal Airport provides a base for general aviation and daily service by Key Lime Air to and from Denver International Airport and Dallas Fort Worth International Airport.
In addition to the agricultural, military and railroading sectors, music has contributed to the economy of Clovis almost since the city originated. Norman Petty Studio in Clovis is where several different artists have recorded; one of the most famous is Buddy Holly.