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neon
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New Mexico


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Aztec, NM theatre 199a

Aztec, NM theatre 199a
Adjacent pictures are from an exploration of the Farmington, NM area. The Farmington area was much more interesting that I had expected. My focus had been on using the Farmington area as a base for exploring the Chaco Culture National Monument (later photos in this set), but the demographics and economics of the area turned out to be worth exploring. Farmington is the main city in a cluster of nearby cities (including Bloomfield and Aztec) where the total population for the metropolitan statistical area was 114,000 in 2000 per Census data -- fairly large for an area that I'd never heard of. The reason for the relatively large population quickly became evident -- the area seemed to be hyper-active with gas and oil extraction activities. When I talked with a local about the extraction industry in the area, he said that the activity wasn't new, that the area had been an active exploration area since the 1940's -- mainly for natural gas. It was difficult, however, to not believe that there was a very recent peak in activity related to recent spikes in energy costs. No matter where I traveled in the region, there would be convoys of 3 or 4 pickup trucks (all only 1 - 2 years old) headed into the fields outside of town, often accompanying a much larger truck with a drilling rig or storage tank. Also, there were 'help wanted' signs all over town for everything from clerks for fast food chains, to service industry managers, to construction and rig workers for the extraction industry.

Per the local source, the key to the natural gas exploration in the Farmington region is a strong cooperative agreement with the Navajo Nation, which is documented on the website for a major employer in the area -- El Paso Natural Gas. Also very active in the extraction industry in the area was Halliburton, the company that VP Cheney was associated with for many years and which has had questionable contracts in Iraq.

What might have been a side-benefit of the booming economy was the relations between various ethnic groups. Far more than I have noticed in other similar areas, Native Americans, Whites, Hispanics, and Blacks (order is by apparent relative size in the population) interacting as equals, both as customers and employees, in restaurants, stores, as field workers, and in various other public activities in the area. The natural gas industry seems to be more dispersed than the oil industry, thus there are no pictures that convey the development in the same way as my pictures of the Taft, CA area -- though some are included later in this set.

Aztec, one of the three main cities in the region, has a nicely restored downtown area. The neon sign here is from a larger marquee; when I was in the area the building was for sale as a theater space.

Diane Putnam, kiiti have particularly liked this photo


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