MITCHELL POINT & THE ROCK HOUSE… WHAT ELEPHANT BUTTE LAKE SP USED TO LOOK LIKE – ELEPHANT BUTTE, NM

1996 was the last year Elephant Butte Reservoir was at full capacity. That’s 24 years ago today. It was made to be used for agriculture in southern part of New Mexico and South Texas. I tried to find photos of these places of interest with the water levels where they once were but all I could find was an old legend. As of September 26, 2020 the lake is recorded to be 4.2% full….

This was July 2019 (over a year ago) when the Butte was 28% full!

Fun fact: The lake is named after a strangely-shaped remnant of an ancient volcano, now forming an island just opposite the dam. It’s apparently shaped like an elephant… however, we can’t seem to ‘see it.’ (our friends tried for a good 30 minutes to get us to see the elephant).

Another fact: The U.S. Military established Fort Conrad, Fort Craig, and Fort McRae in the mid-1800s to protect settlers in the area. Numerous Hispanic agricultural villages also sprang up during this time. The construction of Elephant Butte Dam led to condemnation of many of these settlements, which now lie beneath the waters of the reservoir. A few adobe ruins of old Fort McRae remain on the east side of the reservoir. Here is a link with more history for those who are interested!

This was an old legend – the lake now stops at about the gravel ramp by North Monticello.

History lesson is over! Now on to today’s adventure-

Some friends of ours planned a ride. The ride they took us on was through washes and areas that were once under water. You wouldn’t know it by the looks of it today though. It’s very hard to believe all the stories they told us.

Particularly the fishing and kayaking stories. The place looked like the desert had belonged there for decades. And really… it had. Our friend Lynda had said her and her husband used to take their boat up “The Narrows” back in 1992 (I was 1 year old at this time…) I asked her for photos and she said she didn’t think they had any. Which was too bad… It must’ve looked magnificent!

We road to Mitchell Point first which used to be right on the water. There were houses right next to it that must have cost a fortune back in the 80’s and 90’s. You can still see the waterline! But, today it looks like what every other part of the Chihuahuan desert looks like with the exception of a bunch of green trees and shrubs.

The ride then took us to a place called the “Rock House” which nobody seems to know what it was built for or used for… not even the rangers at the state park seem to know, nor the internets! What the hell!?!

It was strange to think that these places were once full of boaters. I would’ve loved to have seen it! The locals tell us that Elephant Butte Reservoir was drained (slowly) to pay a debt to Texas.

The older we get the more interested we are in America’s history. I’ll try and note the interesting things we learn since they don’t teach you this stuff in school! 😛

So! I hope you learned something – until next time!

Related Post