POW Iron Cross – Roswell, New Mexico - Atlas Obscura

POW Iron Cross

The symbol was surreptitiously built into the river bank by German prisoners of war. 


Roswell, New Mexico, may be forever linked with a history of strange UFO sightings, but there are other, more terrestrial oddities to be found in the town. For instance, the nearly forgotten Iron Cross symbol along the river bank created by German prisoners of war.

During World War II, about 4,800 German prisoners were held in a POW camp just outside of Roswell. Orchard Park, officially known as the Roswell POW Internment Camp, opened on November 26, 1942, with about 250 prisoners.

While the majority of prisoners labored on farms, a group of men worked in the city on a flood control project in town, paving the banks of the Spring River with stone. As construction progressed along the north river bank, a group of prisoners arranged rocks of different sizes to form the outline of the Iron Cross, a military decoration of the German Empire that was reintroduced by the Nazi Army with a swastika added to the center.

Upon discovering the symbol, many Roswell citizens were incensed by the brazen act and subsequently covered the offending image with cement. However, after many years of erosion, the cross reemerged and can be seen once again.

The site has been turned into a memorial to prisoners of war and MIA soldiers everywhere. Known for a time as Iron Cross Park, it was renamed POW/MIA Park in the 1990s. It currently has a viewing platform for the now fully exposed stone cross.

Know Before You Go

The park is named MIA-POW Park, if you’re searching Google Maps.

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