Elephant Butte Dam: Building a Future for Agriculture

A new exhibit at the New Mexico Farm & Ranch Heritage Museum will celebrate the centennial of the Elephant Butte Dam in Sierra County.

“Elephant Butte Dam: Building a Future for Agriculture” is on display in the Museum’s North Corridor.

The creation of Elephant Butte Dam 100 years ago, and the storing of water on the Rio Grande to be used for irrigation, brought important change to southern New Mexico. The dam, which began as an agricultural project envisioned by farmers in New Mexico, Texas, and Mexico, eventually became important to hydroelectricity and recreation as well.
The exhibit tells the story of what brought about the dam, how it was built, and what it provided to southern New Mexico. Dozens of historical photographs are part of the exhibit, as well as maps and information panels.

The Museum also has moved three early components of the dam to be displayed in front of the main building. The valve cylinder, top cap and bonnet were used to raise and lower the sluice gate at the dam. The sluice gate was used to flush rocks, gravel and debris from the dam. In the 1980s, these pieces of equipment were removed from the dam to make way for a more modern hydraulic operation. They were loaned to the Museum by the Bureau of Reclamation in 1996.

The Museum’s exhibit will be on display through Sept. 24, 2017.

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