Sunday, February 10, 2013

Rio Grande Historical Marker in Doña Ana County

This particular historical marker is located on Highway 70 as it intersects the Rio Grande River in west Las Cruces (map this location HERE). I'm sure there are other Rio Grande markers throughout the state, but this is the one that is nearest my home.

The Rio Grande has had an historically significant impact on the settlement and growth of the Mesilla Valley, and much of New Mexico (and west/south Texas as well). The old flow of the river took it through the village of Mesilla and immediately west of the settlement of Tortugas in south Las Cruces. Of course now the river flows further out to the west, about three miles further west than it did 100 years ago. This is due to the Elephant Butte river dam system.

Now the river sits dry for a good portion of the year, primarily during the fall and winter months. But even at its peak, this isn't a river that would be familiar to many back east. Even when it's flowing in all of its majesty, it's a shallow, muddy river. I've canoed the rio and have gotten out of the canoe in the middle of the river and usually found that I'm only in water up to my knees.

No matter the state of the river, it's always had an impact on our area, and people are always quick to mention their favorite memories of being out on the river, be it wading in it as a child, participating in the areas rafting challenges, or driving dune buggies in it during the dry months.

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