CHAVES COUNTY was named after Colonel Jose Francisco Chaves, a military leader during the U.S. Civil War and then later during the Navajo campaigns. The County Seat is Roswell, home of the New Mexico Military Institute, the country’s first oil field training center (an EDA funded project), the nation’s largest mozzarella cheese factory, and the infamous “Roswell Incident”. The 1947 event allegedly involving the discovery of remains of a crashed flying saucer outside the town has generated millions of dollars in revenue through tourism and an annual festival commemorating the event. The county is also a highly productive farming area since irrigation from Artesian wells makes the land arable. The dairy industry plays an important role in the agriculture economy of the region—the county ranks 7th in the nation for dairy production. Oil and gas is produced from several fields in the area. The Victorian architecture of the Courthouse, built in 1911, replaced the earlier 1890 building used after the county was first established in 1889. It is one of two court houses in New Mexico that has a dome on the top of the structure. The courthouse was remodeled and expanded using the same Victorian motif with completion of the project coming in 2004.
Chaves county population as of 2000 was 61,382.