Elephant Butte Dam turns 100 Years old in 2016…
…and seven big events are planned for October at or near the Historic Dam Site Recreation Area!
Friday & Saturday October 7-8: Book Festival at the Damsite Restaurant. Kicks off with a brisket dinner on Friday night ($35).
Friday October 14: Damsite Lights up the Night – the historic Fish Hatchery will be lit with luminarias and lights. $5
Saturday October 15: Dinner on the Dam, $425
Saturday October 15: Fireworks Show over the lake, free
Saturday & Sunday October 15-16: Wooden Nickel Makers Mart at Winding Roads Park, $5
Wednesday October 19: Walk on the Dam, free
Saturday October 22: Ringers on the Rio at Fish Hatchery Park / Paseo del Rio, $20 per team
Elephant Butte Dam Centennial: Photos of a Hundred-Year Old Dam
AUGUST 26-27, 2016 – Elephant Butte Balloon Regatta
See the balloon? Little dot, far left.
APRIL 30, 2016 – Square Dancing on the Dam
Seventy-two Southwestern District Square Dancers took a twirl on the Dam.
Engel Dam, Woodrow Wilson Dam, Elephant Butte Dam…who changed the damned dam’s name?
During the 1880s, Mexico complained that between Colorado and New Mexico, the Rio Grande was being consumed before it reached the international border at Juarez. Mexico justified a prior right to the water because of ancient usage, a rationale recognized by international law. Thus the conflict began.
The Rio Grande starts on the Continental Divide in Colorado. One of the longest rivers in North America, it flows from the San Juan Mountains in Colorado to, then along, the Mexican border.In the early 1900s plans were made to impound the river’s flow and create a reservoir that would hold water to be used for irrigation. In 1906 Congress set aside funds to build Engel Dam, but construction was postponed until 1910 when all of the necessary land had finally been acquired.
By 1916 when the Dam was completed, it truly was an engineering wonder, the largest facility of its kind in the world. The dam’s purpose had been achieved, creating an extensive system of irrigation and making thousands of acres of rich soils available for farming.
The choice of Elephant Butte for the dam site was based on the geologic setting of the area. It only place in southern New Mexico where the Rio Grande had cut a deep canyon into resistant bedrock. This bedrock, primarily Mesaverde grade sandstone, is part of the Cutter sage uplift. The deep canyon provides a natural constriction for the dam and the sandstone provides strong footing.
In 1963, New Mexico State Parks too over the management of Elephant Butte Lake, at which point major construction efforts to cater to tourists became a priority.
The Dam was closed to traffic after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on US soil. In recent years the Dam has been opened for events such as the Dammit Man Triathlon and the State Parks’ First Day Hike on January 1, 2014.