John Martin Dam and Reservoir, Colorado
Image: USACE, public domain
The John Martin Dam is about halfway between Lamar and Las Animas, Colorado. The dam was conceived as a flood control and water management facility on the Arkansas River. Construction was started in 1936, but it was not completed before World War II which halted construction for the duration. The project was completed in 1948.
I recall as a child when we used to travel from Canon City to Lamar, or Granada, or Hartman that we passed the area where Caddoa Dam, as it was called at its inception, was being constructed. I was well into my adult years before I ever knew the dam by any name other than Caddoa. As many public projects are, this facility was finally named in honor of a U.S. Congressman. John A. Martin was a respected citizen, publisher of the La Junta Times, attorney and state representative who also served in the Congress 1909 - 1913 and from 1933 until his death in 1939.1
An interesting item that I stumbled onto highlights the issue of water rights once again. Though a purpose of the dam is to provide flood control and irrigation, the lake has become a major recreation area in Southeastern Colorado, the lake being the largest body of water in the state. But a few years ago water supply from the mountains had been below normal, and in order to preserve the fish in the lake, management of the facility found it necessary to purchase water from the City of Colorado Springs which owns rights on the river.2
2The Colorado Division of Wildlife and Colorado State Parks have jointly purchased 3,000 acre-feet of water from the City of Colorado Springs to add to the permanent water storage pool at John Martin Reservoir. "This purchase will help ensure the long-term storage needs for fishing and recreation at John Martin," said Dan Prenzlow, DOW Southeast Region Manager. Pueblo Chieftan, May 20, 2009