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7:55am — Last Surviving Conchas Dam Worker To Be Honored

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — 99-year-old San Jon man to attend 75th anniversary celebration on Friday.

Earl Flint, 99, of San Jon, is the last known person alive to have worked on the Conchas Dam, and he has been invited to attend a ceremony at 10:30 a.m. Friday to celebrate the dam’s 75th anniversary, the Quay County Sun reported.

“I was one of the luckiest people in the whole world, I thought back then,” Flint told the paper.

Flint said he landed the job as part of a group that hauled concrete to Conchas from Newkirk, and Conchas, at the time, was “nothing but a tent city filled with workers trying to support their families” during the Great Depression, the Sun said.

Michael Louge, public information officer for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, said 2,500 people were hired initially to build a camp for workers, then another 1,458 workers were hired once construction began, the paper reported.

Conchas Dam, located just downstream from the confluence of the South Canadian and Conchas Rivers about 35 miles northwest of Tucumcari, was completed in 1939 at a cost of $15.8 million, according to an online history of the dam.

It was the largest civil works project in New Mexico, and its $15 million cost was nearly twice the state’s $8 million budget at the time, Louge told the paper.

The dam is celebrating its 75th anniversary this year, which is also the 75th anniversary of the Corps of Engineers’ Albuquerque district, Louge said.

A time capsule, filled with items from the Corps’ Albuquerque office, including blueprints, safety gear and Corps shirts, will be sealed during Friday’s celebration and won’t be opened for another 25 years, the Sun said.