By Clarence Plank: PNT staff writer
The Lion’s Club is working to preserve Portales Spring, namesake of the city located on private land off N.M. 88 (Arch Highway).
The Portales Lions are negotiating a lease with the landowner and plan to fence the site. There are also plans to build an observation landing for viewing the area where the springs were once located.
George Speck, chairman for the committee, said the only thing holding them back at the moment is that they need someone to come and survey the land.
“We’re making it into a protected area,” Speck said. “We were just talking about it in the Lion’s Club meeting. We talked about Portales Spring and, well, it’s out there deteriorated and I asked ‘why don’t we do something about it?’ They said ‘okay, you’re in charge.’”
The name Portales originates with caves from where the springs once bubbled up. The outcroppings resembled porches — “Portales” in Spanish — of a hacienda, according to the History of Portales by Freedom New Mexico.
Robert Garcia owns the land.
Lion’s Club member Charlie Crane said not many people know the Portales Spring was once the original settlement before it became the city known today.
“I’ve been helping with the mapping of the area,” Crane said. “I’m not a surveyor, I know how to do a little bit of mapping with some programs. I don’t know if anyone knows the exact location of where the first settlement took place there.”
Crane said he thinks the original settlement was dug using mules and the foundation might have been put on blocks. The shallow lake and the spring dried up years ago.
“It would have been interesting for all of us and unfortunately some of it has eroded with time,” Crane said about what the site looked like many years ago. “Some of it may have been destroyed by a previous land owner partly to keep spectators out of it or if someone got hurt on it, but that is only speculation on my part of it, and then again that may not have happened. It might be that time and the natural erosion of the land destroyed the caves.”