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2012-05-10

Texas Highways features Medina Dam Centennial

By Carolyn B. Edwards BCC Staff Writer

The June issue of Texas Highways, The Travel Magazine of Texas, contains a 3-page feature story on the Medina Dam Centennial which occurs this year.

The Medina Lake Preservation Society is planning a day-long celebratory event for Saturday, August 5, near the dam in Mico and at the Lakehills Civic Center.

The TH article, written by Rob McCorkle, outlines the history of the engineers and financiers who brought their dream of damming Box Canyon on the Medina River to reality. McCorkle includes an interview with Ed Berger, business manager of the owner of the dam, the Bexar-Medina-Atascosa Counties Water Control and Improvement District No. 1, aka BMA.

He also quotes the preservation society's executive director and Courier contributor, Carol Smith.

The Medina Dam was built with private funding from British investors to provide irrigation water to farmlands south of the dam. The Medina Irrigation Company, or MICO, was chartered in 1910 and built the main dam as well as a secondary dam a few miles downstream creating the Diversion Lake and Dam. Water from Medina Lake feeds over 20 miles of irrigation canals to the south.

Construction on Medina Dam began in November of 1911, with 3,000 laborers, many brought in from Mexico, and was completed a year later at a cost of $1.5 million. At the time of its completion, it was the largest dam in Texas and the fourth largest in the United States.

This year, the BMA is completing a $5.6 million stabilization project on the dam, the first major renovation work done since its birth.

Today, Medina Lake continues to provide irrigation water, and also serves as a source of recreation, even though drought has severely affected the lake level. It is also a key source of recharge for the giant Edwards Acquifer, which provides drinking water to San Antonio.

Three historical markers stand on the dam. One commemorates Mountain Valley, a Mormon community now buried under the waters; another relates the history of the dam; and the third designates the dam a Texas civil engineering landmark.

The August centennial celebration will include dignitaries from England and Mexico, a wreath laying ceremony to commemorate the 70workers who died during the dam's construction, and many other special events.

The TH article included a Jack Lewis photo of the dam, a box with info about the centennial celebration, a look-up flag referencing the Spettel-Riverside House and a map that should help bring a nice crowd of folks from all over Texas to Mico and Lakehills on August 5.