The Hidden Treasure of New Mexico

Conchas, NM ---------- Where the Toy Sheds are Bigger than the Homes  ---------- Conchas Lake State Park was established in 1955 and named after the Conchas River, one of the tributaries of the Canadian River. It is 24 mi north of Newkirk and 31 mi northwest of Tucumcari on NM–104 and NM–129 (Fig. 1). Conchas is Spanish for shells and was applied to a group of Indians living in the area when Spanish explorers arrived in the 17th century. The word conchas may be a corrupted name that is confused with the Spanish word conchos, a term also used to describe the Native American tribes in northern New Mexico.
The dam that formed Conchas Lake was the 17th dam in the country built by the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers (Young, 1984). One of the state’s oldest dams, it was completed in 1939 to control floods, store water for irrigation and local supplies, and assist in local economic recovery from the Depression (Welsh, 1985). More than 3,000 people were employed to build this concrete and earthe…