Coolidge Dam is on the Gila River and was built between 1927 and 1928. It primary purposes for irrigation of over 100,000 acres on the San Carlos Indian Reservation.
The Apache Indians opposed the construction of the dam at first as they felt it violated their treaty rights. The body of water the dam would create would be over the old burial grounds and the old camp which Geronimo lived before he left the reservation and began his raids. The Indians felt that removal of the bodies from the grounds would desecrate the dead, so after talks it was decided that a concrete slab would be laid over the principal grounds to protect the grounds. Therefore deep below the reservoir lays the old burial grounds and the old camp of Geronimo.
The drive to the dam is really a neat drive over a primitive road that is fairly maintained. The dam seems to sit in the middle of no where and when you get to it, well it was like wow!
The dam is one of the few that is a dome type of construction. The San Carlos Reservoir lays to one one side of the dam and the other is the Gila River. The drive to see the dam is not a long drive but is a nice one and one worth taking. The reservoir makes for great camping, picnicking, fishing and boating. All is on the San Carlos Indian Reservation therefore it requires those who are not members of the San Carlos Apache tribe who wish to use the lake must contact the tribal office for a permit.
Gila River from the top of the dam
Dam - notice the dome construction. The Eagles overlook the Gila River and are really unique.
The San Carlos Reservoir