Tuesday, January 20th, 2009
Dr. Nathan E. Boyd came to Las Cruces some time before 1890. Although a medical doctor, he spent almost all his time on real estate and financial speculation. In 1892-3 he began promoting a dam across the Rio Grande River just west of Engle. In 1895 he obtained a permit from the US Government to build the dam.
Construction on the dam began, financed by English capital. However, he immediately ran into huge political opposition. Mexico lodged a formal protest, claiming that it would interfere with her water rights. Agricultural interests in the Mesilla Valley strongly turned against the plan when it became clear what Boyd intended to charge. The proposed fee was one half of any land irrigated by water from the dam. Other opponents used the issue of the Rio Grande River being a navigable body of water to tie up the project in the courts.
The battle lasted until 1903, when the project was finally defeated. But Boyd continued to be legally entangled in the fallout for another decade.
Nine years later, in 1912, construction began on the Elephant Butte Dam, which was located south of Boyd’s dam site. This project was only possible because of the battles Boyd fought. He lost those fights, but started the processes that led to their eventual settlement.
In 1905 Boyd founded the First National Bank of Las Cruces. A year later he was forced out of the company due to loans to himself. He then organized the Mesilla Valley Real Estate Company, which among other ventures, purchased and re-sold the old Shalam Colony site.
So, by the time that Boyd bought the Dripping Springs property in 1917, he was known for his grandiose ideas. He immediately announced a huge sanitarium would be built on the site. In the end, he build only a small sanitarium.
The ruins of the Boyd Sanitarium are south of the springs, up a short path:
Here’s the dining area of the sanitarium, half of it built on stilts:
Here’s what the inside looks like, taken through the door. Entrance into the structure is forbidden, due to its fragile condition.
Here you can see what a gorgeous setting it is:
To one side and below the sanitarium is the operator’s house, or Boyd’s house, depending upon the account:
A close up of the house:
Again, entrance is forbidden.
Some time in the 1920s Dr. Boyd sold the property to Dr. T. C. Sexton and moved to Washington D. C. Does anyone know what happened to him after he left Las Cruces?