Once the center of Santa Fe’s hydroelectric activity, Santa Fe Canyon Preserve is today a peaceful nature preserve brimming with wildflowers, willows, ponderosa pine, songbirds, deer, bears, and beavers.
Within the preserve are the ruins of Old Stone Dam, built in 1881. This was the city’s first official attempt to harness the Santa Fe River to supply local residents with water. A flood in 1904 filled the dam with silt. By then, Two-Mile Dam, the remains of which are also on the property, was in place to meet Santa Fe’s growing water needs. Completed in 1893, Two-Mile Dam was the second of four dams built on the Santa Fe River to store its seasonal flow.
The preserve was launched in April 2000 when the Public Service Company of New Mexico (PNM) donated the site to the Conservancy. Developer Ralph Brutsche committed in 2007 to donate another 335 acres to the Conservancy for the expansion of the preserve, with the final 99-acre portion completed in 2011. Since the start of the preserve, the Conservancy, with a little help from Mother Nature, has worked to restore the land to its natural state and constructed a 1.5-mile interpretive loop trail detailing the colorful history and fragile ecology of the place.