There might have been a dam, a mile and a-half of stored water and a new chance at sustainability — though “sustainability” was not in our vocabulary then — with thriving truck gardens, lush orchards and a much greener valley.
Or something else entirely. It depends whom you believed.
Indian Camp Dam is the dam that never was. Seeing the current conflict over a proposed dam in the Gila, I looked back at the stories I wrote in the mid-1970s, when Indian Camp Dam was the dominant controversy in Taos.
Years earlier, led by U.S. Sen. Dennis Chavez, Congress passed a law creating the San Juan-Chama project.
The project diverted water from the San Juan River, a tributary of the Colorado, across the Continental Divide into the Chama River, from which it flows into the Rio Grande.
The Chama joins the Rio Grande near Española. Communities farther north did not have access to that water, so the legislation authorized a dam to be built in Taos County.
The dam was to be sited in the foothills upstream from Ranchos de Taos, along the Rio Grande del Rancho, the stream that runs near the famous St. Francis Church.