Santa Fe River Park – Santa Fe NM


“Seventy-five years ago, Democrats controlling the White House and in Congress launched a series of public-works programs unprecedented in U.S. history. …

No state benefited more from these government-funded programs than New Mexico whose Democratic governor, Clyde Tingley, was a political supporter and friend of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. …

The Santa Fe River Park includes flagstone walkways, a stone-lined acequia channel, picnic tables, limestone-block walls lining the banks and thousands of trees. The park was developed in several phases, at undetermined costs, by the Civilian Conservation Corps between 1935 and 1940.

David Kammer, an Albuquerque historian, said Stephen DeBoer, a landscape architect who designed Denver’s park system, originally envisioned the park stretching some 20 miles, all the way to La Bajada. The New Deal made money available for state parks, but initially New Mexico had no state parks, so a system had to be created, beginning with the Santa Fe River Park and Hyde Memorial State Park.

The first major task was straightening the river’s meandering path through downtown Santa Fe. ‘It’s hard for people to believe today, except during the spring melt off, but on occasions, historically, that could be a torrential river,’ Kammer said. ‘In terms of what we know today environmentally, … you might not want to make a straight channel.’

Like many other New Deal projects, the Santa Fe River Park work used locally quarried limestone and other native materials. ‘A quarter-mile east of the Delgado (Street) Bridge, there’s a wonderful natural-looking stone weir there that creates a waterfall and a small pool below it,’ Kammer said. ‘That’s an example of that kind of naturalistic landscaping that the CCC did. … Someday in the future, people will look at New Mexico and the history of masonry, and they’ll identify two great periods the period of Chaco Canyon and the period of the New Deal.'”

-Tom Sharpe, The Santa Fe New Mexican

Source notes

Tom Sharpe, "New Deal's legacy: The face of New Mexico," The Santa Fe New Mexican, April 6, 2008.

"New Deal Sites in New Mexico," Atlas of Historic New Mexico Maps, New Mexico Humanities Council.

We welcome contributions of additional information on any New Deal project site.


Location Info

River Park
Santa Fe, NM 87501

Coordinates: 35.684459, -105.929897

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