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La Presa de La Boquilla, Chihuahua Pictorial Collection

Identifier: PICT-2013-011

Scope and Content

This collection of 42 silver gelatin prints, circa 1915-1917, shows the recently constructed dam and electrical plant on the Rio Conchos in the state of Chihuahua. The images depict views of the dam from above and below; the exterior of the hydroelectric plant and the interior of the plant showing hydro-electric generators, turbines, and the huge tunnel used to channel water. Many of the images bare the stamp of the photographers, Holguin y Berumen on the verso and some images are signed R. Diaz in the negative and visible in the print. There are 15 panoramas that show the river, town, and surrounding landscapes in addition to the 27 photographs of varying size.


  • circa 1915

Access Restrictions

The collection is available for research.

Copy Restrictions

Duplication of print and photographic material is allowed for research purposes. User is responsible for copyright compliance. For more information see the Photographs and Images Research Guide and contact the Pictorial Archivist.


In 1905, with financing from Canadian infrastructure promotions, the Conchos River Agricultural and Electrical Power Company (CAFERC) was able to acquire the concession to use the water of the Rio Conchos for power generation. A dam was started in 1909 but as a result of the revolution construction was suspended until 1910 and completed in 1915. A hydroelectric plant was built at the base of the dam.

La Boquilla Dam or Presa de La Boquilla is a masonry concave-arch gravity dam on the Rio Conchos in Chihuahua, Mexico. Intended to provide hydroelectricity, irrigation and flood control, the waters that form Lago Toronto have a capacity of 2.903 cubic kilometres. The construction of the dam was considered pioneering because of its scale and created briefly, the world’s largest artificial lake. The dam and the nearby town of Boquilla de Conchos are named for the abrupt narrowing of the Conchos valley where the dam was built: boquilla meaning "nozzle" or "mouth" in Spanish.

The Rio Conchos rises in the Sierra Madre Accidental near Bocoyna in Chihuahua, there it heads east and receives several tributaries along the way. From there, the Conchos heads north, receiving the San Pedro near Delicias, Chihuahua, entering the Chihuahua Desert and cutting a path through it, before turning to the northeast. At Aldama, Chihuahua, it is dammed by the Presa El Granero, then cuts through the Peguis Canyon, before forming a last dam (Toribio Ortega) near Ojinaga. At Ojinaga, it joins the Rio Bravo/ Rio Grande. The 1944 Treaty between the U.S. and Mexico, governing binational allocation of the Rio Bravo/ Rio Grande and its tributaries, is still contested as the decreased flow of the Rio Conchos effects eastern states of Mexico, the northern state of Chihuahua, and southern Texas.

The dam has overflowed several times throughout its history, most notably in 1917 and 2008, causing severe flooding downstream. The power plant at the dam has a generating capacity of 25 megawatts. In 2004 it produced 164,660,000 kilowatt hours of energy.


42 items (1 box) : 42 photographic prints

Language of Materials

Spanish; Castilian


42 unmounted silver gelatin prints showing La Boquilla dam and hydro-electric power plant on the Rio Conchos in the state of Chihuahua, Mexico.

Physical Location

B2. Shelved by Pictorial number.

Collection Available Online

Much of La Presa de la Boquilla, Chihuahua Pictorial Collection is available in digital format from New Mexico's Digital Collections.
Finding Aid of the La Presa de La Boquilla, Chihuahua Pictorial Collection, circa 1915
Edited Full Draft
Rachel Donovan
© 2013, 2019
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Finding aid is in English

Revision Statements

  • Monday, 20210524: Attribute normal is missing or blank.

Repository Details

Part of the UNM Center for Southwest Research & Special Collections Repository

University of New Mexico Center for Southwest Research & Special Collections
University Libraries, MSC05 3020
1 University of New Mexico
Albuquerque NM 87131