The River That Crosses Itself: The Flume, Carlsbad, NM


A crumbling, soggy overpass on the north side of Carlsbad makes for an unlikely tourist attraction.  Few people will probably go out of their way to see the old structure, known as the “Pecos Flume”.  But those who do can say they’ve seen the world’s only river that crosses itself.

You can find the flume on the north side of Carlsbad, about a block northeast of US Hwy. 285.  Once you spot the Comfort Inn, you’re close.  Look for Callaway Drive, then Westridge Drive.

Long ago, Ripley’s Believe It Or Not bestowed the title of “World’s Only River That Crosses Itself” on the Pecos River, and the unique flume which splits off from the Pecos, then turns and crosses above it.  The flume is part of Carlsbad’s irrigation system, and helps keep what would otherwise be a dry town, green.

The Pecos Flume was first built out of wood in 1890.  A flood destroyed it in 1902, and it was rebuilt out of concrete.  At the time, it was the largest concrete structure in the world.  

Inside the Flume, River that Crosses Itself, Carlsbad New Mexico

There’s plenty of room to park below the flume, and there are no fences or signs warning younot to climb up to the top.  During my visit, there was standing water in the flume, but not enough to flow through it.

Leaky Spot in the Pecos Flume

There was, however, enough water in the leaky flume to rain down on passing cars.

Take US Hwy. 285 North to Artesia.

Note: This trip was first published in 2006.

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