The Elephant Butte Lake building that is not always underwater near the Elephant Butte

Was there really a hospital at the bottom of Elephant Butte Lake?

Fun Facts & FYIs

A long time ago, we saw a Tweet (ya know, on Twitter) that went like this:

“This is the first time I’ve heard of it but apparently there was a hospital at the bottom of Elephant Butte Lake and now it’s visible??”

Just a few hours prior, we’d come across a cool photo on Flickr. The full size image is no longer availalble, so we include a thumb below. It’s hard to see at postage stamp size, but it’s still a glimpse into the cool fashions of 1956, with the building evident in the bottom right corner. If you needed a reminder that low lake levels come and go, and come again, there it is.

elephant butte lake july 1956 thumb
Full-sized image no longer available via Flickr. 🙁

At the time of this post, the level looks pretty much like the photo, so we are well aware of the building we think the tweeter was tweeting about, and we’ve also heard the “hospital” hypothesis a few times. We decided to seek out some facts, so we put the question to one of our local historians – “was there really a hospital built nearby during the days the Elephant Butte Dam was being built, and is this building that hospital?”

According to Sherry Fletcher, local historian, “that building was the machine shop, not a hospital. The hospital was further up the canyon (thus the name of the canyon is Hospital Canyon) but the stone building was for maintenance.”

We’ve heard that when lake levels are up, people scuba dive to the machine shop.

Now that’s a story we have no trouble believing.

Now, let’s talk about those bus-sized catfish…