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Ice Ponds

The Agua Pura (pure water) Company built a dam a little distance above Montezuma soon after the railroad arrived in Las Vegas in 1880. Water from the dam was piped to Las Vegas homes and fire hydrants.

High cliffs shadowing the reservoir kept the water frozen in winter for several months.[1] The Santa Fe Railroad built a spur line from Las Vegas to its luxury hotel at Montezuma and on to the reservoir[2]. Three hundred men were employed each winter cutting ice for use on railroad freight and dining cars. They cut over 50,000 tons of ice annually[3].

The ice-cutting lasted until the dawn of electric refrigeration on railroad cars and home refrigerators in the 1930’s[4].



Cutting ice on Gallinas Pond near Las Vegas, New Mexico 1904, Courtesy Palace of the Governors Photo Archives (NMHM/DCA), Negative No. 009425   

[1] Gallinas Canyon…past and present

[2] New Mexico’s Railroads

[3] Gallinas Canyon…past and present

[4] Ibid