150 years ago today, on June 12, 1907, Colfax County rancher and businessman Charles Springer submitted an application to the New Mexico Territorial Engineer to build a dam at the head of the Cimarron River, thereby creating what would become known as Eagle Nest Lake.
The application called for impounding 113,700 acre feet of what it called “surplus flood waters” from the Cimarron and its tributaries: Cieneguilla, Moreno, and other creeks in the Cimarron watershed. The water would be “used for power plants as it goes down Cimarron canyon and for irrigation, for supplying cities and towns and water users generally, . . . for irrigating, mining power and other purposes.”
Charles Springer, who had arrived in the Territory in 1878, was brother to Frank Springer, one-time attorney for the Maxwell Land Grant Company. The Springer application to dam the headwaters of the Cimarron was approved in August 1907. Due to a variety of issues, including lack of capital and the need to buy the lands to be flooded from the people who owned them, construction of the impound dam did not get underway until Spring 1917.
Source: Anderson, History of New Mexico Its Resources and People, Pacific States Publishing, 1907; June and August 1907 application for NM State Engineer permit #71