Radium Springs, NM
Until a post office was established in 1926, Radium Springs had been known as Fort Selden Springs, named for nearby Fort Selden.
Known for its rich history, early settlers once used this area as a passage to Jornada del Muerto. The small town of Radium Springs is located on NM 185 west of the Rio Grande and across from Fort Selden State Monument and the ruins of a 19th-century army outpost Fort Selden. The community owes its name to the free-slowing mineral hot springs that were often frequented by soldiers from nearby Fort Selden. It was when the post office was established, that a mineral analysis of the water was performed and showed enough "millimicrocuries" of radium per liter of water that the town could use the word "radium" in its name! In the 1920s the Radium Springs Resort Hotel was built with bathhouses connected to the wells. It attracted many people who felt the water was beneficial for arthritis, nerve problems and many other diseases. It flourished for almost 50 years, then fell from favor, and was even once used as a women's prison and also an art center.
Another unique feature of Radium Springs is the Leasburg Dam. Constructed in 1908, it is one of the oldest diversion dams in New Mexico which was constructed not to hold back the flow of the Rio Grande river, but to instead divert it into a system of canals for use by nearby farms. Leasburg Dam State Park offers year-round camping, picnicking, and bird watching. From about mid-March to mid-October the park is also a venue for fishing, canoeing, and kayaking in the Rio Grande.
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