ELEPHANT BUTTE, N.M. (KRQE) – A site older than the state of New Mexico is getting some much-needed upgrades. The Damsite Historic District at Elephant Butte Lake just finished the first stage of a multi-year rehabilitation project.
“We tried to preserve the history and bring it back to what it originally was,” Lago Rico president Neal Brown said.
Brown said workers replaced stonework, stairs, buildings, windows, woodwork and more. Those involved in the project said they saved several buildings from destruction, as well as rehabbed buildings on the National Register of Historic Places.
“We also started on replacing the plumbing that runs underneath the building, remove floors to put the plumbing underneath, and put in new electric to bring things up to code,” Brown said.
Five of the 17 casitas on the property have now been restored after many roofs and walls were cracked and leaking.
“They just look a lot nicer,” Brad Steinmiller, who worked on the project, said. “People come out and stay in them, they enjoy them a lot more now.”
People who live nearby said they are happy to see the preservation of a place they are so proud of.
“It is important that we maintain it and keep it up,” resident C.L. Maddon said. “It’s a wonderful place for everybody to come. To me, that is important. It is important to preserve our history and take care of it as we go along.”
Brown said they are now working to restore the remainder of the casitas and dam site to attract more people to the area.
“It is such a beautiful place, and this is New Mexico’s playground,” Brown said. “This is a diamond in the desert. We just need to save it so people can enjoy it.”
Hundreds of thousands of dollars went toward the first phase of the project. Half is being paid for by the Bureau of Reclamation. The other half is being paid for by Lago Rico, the group that oversees the area.