Eagle Nest Dam Finally Begins Construction

Eagle Nest dam early in the construction process. Source: NM State Engineer’s Office.

On the brink of what would become known as World War I, in March 1917, construction on the Eagle Nest dam and reservoir at the head of the Cimarron Canyon had finally gotten  underway. The project had been held up for nine years while the Cimarron Valley Land Company, under the leadership of Charles Springer, fought to acquire the land that would be flooded by the impounded waters. Long-time Moreno Valley property owner Mary Gallagher had fought valiantly against the project, but when she died in 1916, her eight children seem to have quickly capitulated to the company’s demands. The deeds for the condemned lands were handed over on January 17, 1917, and work commenced. Even with the shortages in material, equipment, supplies, and laborers as a result of the war in Europe, construction proceeded rapidly and the dam was 90 percent complete by mid-December that year.

Mary Gallagher’s 1907 letter protesting the dam and reservoir. Source: Office of the NM State Engineer

Sources: Charles Springer affidavit dated Jan. 29, 1921; Gallagher protest letter dated January 31, 1908.