SAN ESTEBAN LAKE
SAN ESTEBAN LAKE. San Esteban Lake, a privately owned reservoir built for irrigation, is on Alamito Creek twelve miles south of Marfa in northeastern Presidio County (at 30°10' N, 104°02' W). The lake is surrounded by desert mountain terrain, canyon land of volcanic rock, and alluvial deposits of sand, gravel, and mud that support scrub brush, sparse grasses, cacti, and desert shrubs. It was built at the sight of a historic spring-fed tinaja that supplied water to early Indians, Spanish explorers, and merchants who traveled the ancient Chihuahua Trail. The canyon north of Tinaja San Esteban was the setting for the 1824 Indian massacre of a company of Mexican soldiers. In the late 1870s cattlemen took up land around the San Esteban water hole. W. W. Bogel and his five sons raised cattle, horses, and mules at San Esteban Ranch. Construction of the lake began in 1910. The 400 by 68 foot concrete pier and deck dam was completed in 1911 at a cost of $62,000 by St. Stephen Land and Irrigation Company as a commercial land development. The company expected to settle between 500 and 800 families on small irrigated farms of ten, twenty, or forty acres each in St. Stephen Valley, an area eleven miles long and two and one-half miles wide. In 1928 during a drought the lake was reported to be filling with silt, and farmers abandoned their land. The development company folded, and W. W. Bogel leased the land. The original operating level of the lake was 4,451 feet above mean sea level, with a capacity of 18,770 acre-feet and an area of 762 acres. On June 29, 1914, state authorization allowed lake use of 25,500 acre-feet of water to irrigate 8,500 acres of land. On July 16, 1962, usage was reduced to 400 acre-feet annually to irrigate 200 acres of land. The lake was limited to recreational use only in July 1969. Instead of a spillway there are three gate valves, each sixteen inches under the dam deck. San Esteban (St. Stephen) Lake was named for the water hole.