WPA & New Deal
Designed & Cultural Landscapes
Spring River Park
photo by Ted Schooley
A prisoner of war camp was located in Orchard Park during World War II. The German POWs were put to work building infrastructure for the city. One of their projects concerned paving the banks of the North Spring River in stone. Some of the POWs worked together and with different size stones, created an âIron Cross among the other paving stones. When discovered, the city had the spot covered with a thin veneer of concrete. During the 1980s, a crew working at cleaning the river bed exposed the artwork and shortly thereafter, the City of Roswell dedicated the Iron Cross Park close by. In 1996, the park was renamed POW/MIA Park. The German Air Force also donated a piece of the Berlin Wall to the park. As the town expanded with the platting of new additions to the north, lots lining North Spring River now faced on a dry channel. Efforts to landscape this channel began in the 1930s as WPA projects. In the early 1940s, when a prisoner-of-war camp was established at Orchard Park, 14 miles southeast of Roswell, German prisoners, many of them members of General Rommelâ��s Afrika Corps, were assigned to construct riprap along North Spring Riverâ��s channel . As they labored in the area, the prisoners fashioned an Iron Cross consisting of polychromatic stones embedded in riprap. At first, some members of the community perceived the cross as an insult to the community and coated it with cement. However, over the years the concrete has been removed through erosion and the cross is seen as a reminder of an important chapter in the cityâ��s past and was commemorated in 1993 with the creation of a small observation park. Spring River has become a recreation and cultural corridor for the city of Roswell, linking Cahoon Park, the Roswell Art Museum, Spring River zoo and golf course.
1306 E. College Blvd. | Roswell, NM 88201 | 575-624-6760
mon: 10:00 am - 6:30 pm | tue: 10:00 am - 6:30 pm | wed: 10:00 am - 6:30 pm | thu: 10:00 am - 6:30 pm | fri: 10:00 am - 6:30 pm | sat: 10:00 am - 6:30 pm | sun: 10:00 am - 6:30 pm