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Carrizozo is a town in Lincoln County, New Mexico and is the county seat with a population of 996 at the 2010 census. Founded in 1899, the town provided the main railroad access for Lincoln County, and the town experienced significant population growth in the early decades of the 1900s. However, with declining relevance of the railroad, the population of the town has gradually declined. The town is located at the intersection of U.S. Route 54 and U.S. Route 380.
The name of the town is derived from the Spanish vernacular for reed grass (Carrizo), which grew significantly in the area and provided excellent feed for ranch cattle. The additional 'zo' at the end of the town name was added to indicate abundance of Carrizo grass. The town is now often referred to as 'Zozo.
Prior to 1899, the area was primarily a few ranches and a stagecoach crossing with limited permanent settlement. Lawrence Murphy, a merchant active in the Lincoln County War (1878), owned a major ranch in the area. The location of Carrizozo was selected as the site for a station on the El Paso and Northeastern Railway (EP&NE) main line in 1899. Carrizozo was chosen over the nearby booming mine town of White Oaks, New Mexico, resulting in large-scale migration from White Oaks to Carrizozo.
The railroad brought businesses, growing population, and increased importance to the town of Carrizozo.
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