The construction of the Medina Lake Dam began in 1911 and was finished in 1912. It took approximately three thousand men to build the dam, working twenty hours a day, six days a week.
In Ripples from Medina Lake, Rev. Cyril M. Kuehne, S.M., claimed that as many as seventy workers died during the dam’s construction, but only managed to find twenty-seven death certificates. Kuehne quotes Dr. Oscar B. Taylor, a practicing dentist in near-by Hondo, as saying that he “counted sixty-six graves” at an unmarked cemetery about three miles from the construction site.
In addition to the recorded deaths and the anecdotal account of graves, there is an intriguing story that cannot be substantiated but is important to note. Area residents say that “one or more of the laborers are entombed in the concrete mass.” While this type of myth is commonly associated with most dams, the story of men entombed in the Medina Dam is plausible. After all, workers only had twenty-four hours of respite a week for an entire year, and exhaustion is considered a leading cause of accidents. There are no company records of accidents or deaths.
To this end, The Society is committed to building a memorial in honor of all those who helped in the construction of this historical dam.
Visit our Projects page to view other projects and find out how you can help.