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Elephant Butte Dam
Elephant butte dike.jpg
Country United States
Location Elephant Butte, New Mexico
Status In use
Construction began 1911
Opening date 1916
Dam and spillways
Type of dam Gravity
Impounds Rio Grande
Height 301 ft (92 m)
Length 1,674 ft (510 m)
Width (crest) 18 ft (5 m)
Width (base) 228 ft (69 m)
Dam volume 618,785 cu yd (473,095 m3)
Creates Elephant Butte Lake
Total capacity 2,065,010 acre·ft (2.547152329×109 m3)
Catchment area 28,900 sq mi (75,000 km2)
Surface area 36,500 acres (14,800 ha)
Power station
Hydraulic head 140 ft (43 m) (rated)
Turbines 1 x Francis turbine
Installed capacity 27.95 MW
Annual generation 38,449,061 kWh
Elephant Butte Dam
Elephant Butte Dam under construction 1914.JPG
The spillway is in the lower left corner of the picture and the power plant is located at the base of the opposite side of the dam.
Elephant Butte Dam is located in New Mexico
Elephant Butte Dam
Location Sierra County, New Mexico
Nearest city Truth or Consequences, New Mexico
Coordinates 33°09′14″N 107°11′32″W / 33.153969°N 107.192113°W / 33.153969; -107.192113Coordinates: 33°09′14″N 107°11′32″W / 33.153969°N 107.192113°W / 33.153969; -107.192113
Built 1910
Architect Louis C. Hill
Architectural style Other
NRHP Reference # 79001556[1]
Added to NRHP April 9, 1979

Elephant Butte Dam or Elephant Butte Dike is a concrete gravity dam on the Rio Grande river near Truth or Consequences, New Mexico. The dam impounds Elephant Butte Reservoir, which is used for both recreation and agriculture. The construction of the dam has reduced the flow of the Rio Grande to a small stream, with high releases occurring only during the summer irrigation season, or during years of exceptionally heavy snow melt.

Dam at Elephant Butte, on Rio Grande, near Truth or Consequences, NM (postcard, circa 1916)

The dam is part of the Rio Grande Project, a project to provide power and irrigation to south-central New Mexico and west Texas. The United States Congress authorized construction of the dam on February 25, 1905 and it began in 1911. It was completed in 1916 but allowed to begin filling in 1915.[2]

Elephant Butte Dam is 301 feet (91.7 m) high, 1,674 feet (510.2 m) long including the spillway and is made from 618,785 cubic yards (473,095 m³) of concrete.[2] The width at the top of the dam is 18 feet (5.5 m) and 228 feet (69.5 m) at the base.[3]

The reservoir has a capacity of 2,065,010 acre feet (2.54715×109 m3) of water[2] and controls the runoff from 28,900 square miles (74,850 km²).[3] It provides irrigation to 178,000 acres (720 km²) of land. The dam also contains a 27,945-kilowatt hydroelectric powerplant. The current turbine was installed in 1940 and generates 38,449,061 kWh per year (as of 2005).[2] The crest elevation is 4390 ft (1338 m).[4]

At the time of its construction, the dam was the largest irrigation dam ever built with the exception of the Aswan Dam in Egypt.[5] It was expected that the dam would become the property of the local settlers once a water tax had reimbursed the government for the cost of construction. During construction the government used a system of 3 cables, each having a capacity of 15 tons and a span of 1,400 feet (430 m).

The name "Elephant Butte" refers to a volcanic core similar to Devils Tower in Wyoming. It is now an island in the lake. The butte was said to have the shape of an elephant.

Dam site, Elephant Butte (postcard, circa 1916-1924)


  1. ^ Staff (2007-01-23). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 
  2. ^ a b c d "Elephant Butte Powerplant". Rio Grande Project. Bureau of Reclamation. December 28, 2005. Archived from the original on September 26, 2006. Retrieved October 11, 2006. 
  3. ^ a b "Elephant Butte Dam". Dataweb. Bureau of Reclamation. August 22, 2006. Archived from the original on September 27, 2006. Retrieved October 11, 2006. 
  4. ^ "Elephant Butte Dike". Geographic Names Information System. United States Geological Survey. Retrieved 2006-05-12. 
  5. ^ "Great Elephant Butte Dam Approaching Completion". Popular Mechanics Magazine. January 1915. Retrieved 9 February 2009. 

External links[edit]

EBID. "Elephant Butte Irrigation District". Retrieved 1 May 2014. 

Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elephant_Butte_Dam — Please support Wikipedia.
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4878 videos foundNext > 



Elephant Butte Impact: Lake Levels Near Elephant Butte Dam

This video shows how upstream drought has impacted Elephant Butte Lake in Southern New Mexico. Water released from the lake into the Rio Grande supplies ...

Elephant Butte Dam & Reservoir

Elephant Butte Reservoir is a reservoir on the Rio Grande in the U.S. state of New Mexico, 5 miles (8.0 km) north of Truth or Consequences. This reservoir is the .

Elephant Butte Dam - Sierra County Centennial Video Series

This video tells the story of the Elephant Butte Dam (a National Historical Engineer Landmark with the ASCE) and how it came to be constructed in this particular ...

Elephant Butte Dam

once a year walking tour.

Come Fish With Us At Elephant Butte Lake Dam Site Marina!!! (CLOSED)

We will be making a video at the Dam Site Marina at Elephant Butte Lake May 16th any everyone is invited to be a part of it! This event is for all ages. The Dam ...

Floating the Rio Grande from Elephant Butte Dam to Truth or Consequences

The 5-mile stretch starts at Paseo del Rio campground, just below Elephant Butte dam and ends at Rotary Park in Truth or Consequences. There are three short ...

NM True TV Elephant Butte Lake

For much of its winding travels through New Mexico the Rio Grande is a quiet river. But above the Elephant Butte Dam it becomes a massive lake, filled with just ...

Fishing At The Dam Site Marina With My YouTube Friends

The Dam Site Marina is a great place to fish. There are many species of fish waiting to be caught such as bluegill, crappie, catfish, walleye, white bass, striper ...

Elephant Butte Dam

4878 videos foundNext > 

111 news items

Albuquerque Journal

Albuquerque Journal
Sat, 23 Apr 2016 23:00:00 -0700

Elephant Butte Dam, near Truth of Consequences, will celebrate its 100th birthday in October with events ranging from art shows and melodramas to tours of the dam and its historic district. (Dean Hanson/Journal).

KRQE News 13

KRQE News 13
Tue, 20 Oct 2015 16:48:45 -0700

According to officials, it happened at Elephant Butte Lake near the east side of the Elephant Butte dam. It happened at about 1:30 p.m.. Deputies say when they arrived they found a man with a gun; the suspect pointed the gun at deputies and they fired ...

Albuquerque Journal

Albuquerque Journal
Sat, 31 Oct 2015 23:09:18 -0700

By Glen Rosales / Journal Staff Writer. Sunday, November 1st, 2015 at 12:02am. Truth or Consequences is about more than Elephant Butte. A view of Elephant Butte Dam from the west. The dam turns 100 next year. (Photo courtesy Sierra County Tourism).
Seattle Post Intelligencer (blog)
Thu, 12 Apr 2012 04:37:30 -0700

Just east of my current location in Truth or Consequences, New Mexico is Elephant Butte Lake which was created by the Elephant Butte Dam. As always you may left click upon an image to see an enlarged view and then click once again to see an even larger ...


Thu, 31 Dec 2015 15:42:15 -0800

Elephant Butte Dam was built in 1916 to store snowmelt flowing from northern New Mexico and southern Colorado. The man made reservoir supplies thousands of farmers and municipal users in New Mexico, El Paso, Texas and Mexico with water, in wet and ...

KRQE News 13

KRQE News 13
Tue, 01 Mar 2016 21:03:45 -0800

The habitat areas are actually similar to what existed here for centuries, before the advent of Elephant Butte dam. Some of the river wranglers do say they dream of the day there will be more snow in the mountains up north. Then maybe, the once ...
Fri, 19 Feb 2016 03:48:45 -0800

Here's the funny thing about space: Ask people what they think about it and you'll get every kind of answer. We should colonize Mars! We should stay home! We should look for life! Space, really, is a giant Rorschach. Into it we send rockets and ...
Albuquerque Journal
Mon, 28 Mar 2016 07:37:30 -0700

In 1881, the first railroad finished its line to Las Cruces, increasing settlement by Anglo Americans . By 1916, Elephant Butte Dam was finished, opening up farm land that drove further settlement of the Mesilla Valley by U.S. residents from outside ...

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