Carrizozo was founded in 1899 by Charles Eddy. He and his brother John were building the El Paso & Northeastern Railroad from El Paso to Santa Rosa. At the location of Carrizozo, they built a spur line east to Capitan. In 1905, the brothers sold the railroad to the Phelps Dodge Company, who promptly renamed it the El Paso & Southwestern. In 1906, Ira Wetmore arrived and began platting the townsite for development. Part of Carrizozo was built on land that was formerly part of the Bar W Ranch, owned by William C. McDonald (who was New Mexico's first elected governor after statehood). The map of Carrizozo today looks very much like Ira Wetmore's original plats.
In the beginning, Carrizozo boomed as a bustling new railroad town. In 1913, the county seat was moved from Lincoln to Carrizozo because of the growth in population and business. However, from the photos on this page, you can see that Carrizozo's fortunes seem to have peaked about the same time the I-25 was built through the Rio Grande Valley some 65 miles to the west, and all the traffic shifted over there.
Carrizozo is somewhat famous for its "burro serenade." While I found lots of burros on 12th Street, they were spread all over town. There seems to be quite a few artists in these parts...
Update: It's now spring in 2009, and Carrizozo is being used as a movie set for some apocalyptic Hollywood creation (The Book of Eli). I saw a few background scenes on the local news and it looks interesting, now I'm waiting for the movie to come out (the movie turned out to be quite good (to my taste anyway) but Carrizozo didn't look nearly that bad when I was there - I hope they didn't destroy whole sections of the old town for the movie set). Since Bill Richardson has been governor, New Mexico has attracted a lot of movie work.
2011: Democrat Richardson is out (term limits) and the movie work in New Mexico has ground to a halt (the new Republican governor killed all the tax incentives).