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Falcon Dam Dedication (1953)
International Boundary and Water Commission
Sound
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1953
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Color
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English
  • Map
  • Highlights
    President Dwight D. Eisenhower
    Mexican President Aldolfo Ruiz Cortines
  • Transcript
    The United States of America and the United States of Mexico share a common boundary almost 2,000 miles long from the Pacific Ocean eastward to the Gulf of Mexico.
    The Rio Grande forms a little over one half that boundary.
    Rising in the American Rocky Mountains, the Rio Grande flows south-eastward losing force and meandering sluggishly through vastly semi-arid plains, which need only irrigation to make them productive.
    Mesquite and cactus thickets now dot the long sunbaked stretches on both sides of the river. But as the Rio Grande nears the Gulf of Mexico, it passes through a huge delta reason, now extensively farmed but dependent on the river for irrigation.
    Periodically the erratic river swollen by heavy rains has swirled over its banks to blanket with muddy water the thousands of square miles of rich Mexican and American farmlands.
    Homes too are engulfed by the floodwaters, which when they recede unfold a tragic but age old story of desolation alongthe Rio Grande.
    To help harness this river that sometimes rages wildly from its bed and sometimes dries up in places, Mexico and the United States started construction of Falcon Dam in 1950.
    Its building has been a work of international cooperation, the latest achievement in the long history of the two nations working together to improve and develop their common border.
    Side by side, Mexican and American Workers constructed this first of several Rio Grande dam projects, planned to provide irrigation, flood control, and hydro-electric powerfor the region.
    The project was under the supervision of the International Boundary and Water Commission, United States and Mexico, which since 1889 has worked successfully to resolve common border and river problems.
    All construction costs are shared by the two countries in proportion to the water and benefits they will receive.  The dam, backing up a manmade lake which someday will stretch 60 miles long and 11 miles wide, is ready for dedication on October 19, 1953.
    President Dwight Eisenhower of The United States arrives for the ceremonies.  Passing between an armored guard of American and Mexican soldiers, the President crosses the 5 mile long dam to visit Mexico as a guest of its President and the Mexican people.
    In the border town of Nuevo Guerro, 2 miles from the end of the dam, Mr. Eisenhower Adolfo Ruiz Cortines meet and shake hands warmly.
    Later from a balcony at the municipal palace, the two presidents view a traditional Mexican fiesta, with its traditional gay and colorful costumes and songs.
    After the fiesta and following a luncheon which in Mr. Eisenhower in turn is host to President Ruiz Cortines on the States' side of the dam, the two presidents ride together to the dedication site
    At the point where the international boundary passes through the center of the great structure the two men make their way to a specially constructed.  President Ruiz Cortines is first to speak.
    Falcon Dam symbolizes in a most special way the desire of our two countries to unite their efforts in this sphere of cooperation, which their neighborhood makes imperative to facilitate and if possible accelerate  the forward march of social and economic progress.
    Not withstanding the fact that our nations are different in character, customs, and resources, they are good friends because they have learned that the principles of mutual respect and understanding cannot be confined within the boundaries of any nation
    but rather posses a universal value, which applies to personal relationships as well as to the relations between states
    Mexico and the United States are not alone in this friendship.  19 other American countries, our sister republics, share it with the same rights because they rose to freedom as we did, in the most amazing flowering of nations recorded in history.
    Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, Hidalgo, Morelos, Juarez, Bolivar, San Martin, Marti, and many other leaders in each of the countries in this hemisphere charted the course of independence and freedom of our republics.
    I wish to express my most cordial and sincere wishes for the prosperity and greatness of the United States of America, its government, and its people and for the health and well-being of its chief executive, my illustrious friend, President Eisenhower.
    Now President Eisenhower warmly congratulates Mr. Ruiz Cortines and begins his address.
    Do you, President Ruiz Cortines, permit me to address my first thought?  As we meet here to dedicate this great structure to the use of our two peoples, I prize the opportunity of meeting you personally.
    Such works as this are created in the hearts of the citizens of two nations, citizens who respect and believe in one another.  They are brought with the most precious coin in the world: the good will among people.
    I pay my tribute then to the men who really created this work: the citizen of the United States of Mexico and the citizen of the United States of America.
    Ours is the imperishable spirit of free men, unswayed by the cheap promises of totalitarianism, undismayed by its blustering threats.  Our common purpose is the pursuit of a peace that is productive and lasting.
    We seek indeed that age whose grandest monuments are not built to honor military or physical accomplishments but rather those very different monuments: schools to teach our young, hospitals to heal our sick, roads to bear our commerce, power to give warmth and light, religious institutions to rouse the spirit, and the structure of abiding peace in which men may faithfully see all that is good, all that is noble in life.
    We confidently believe that such purposes continue to grow throughout this hemisphere, especially Mr. President, we believe that your nation under your leadership in that thought and inthat purpose.
    We humbly believe these purposes to be worthy enough to ask the blessing of the almighty upon our peoples as we seek with prayer and patience, there for attainment.  My friends, thank you very much.
    A historic moment, the presidents of Mexico and the United States of America, solemnize this cooperative achievements between the two neighbors, unveiling memorial monuments bearing bronze replicas of the great seals of their countries.
    From identical power plants on each side of the river will come 250 million kilowatts hours of energy each year for industry and homes in each country.
    And most importantly, Falcon Dam, through its flood control and conservation of water, will eventually provide irrigation for some 600,000 acres on the American side of the river and about 700,000 in Mexico.
    Water on the land, water to reclaim desert wastes and regulate the irrigation of the rich lower Rio Grande valley.
    Falcon Dam today stands as a dramatic example of the endeavor of two nations to work together in peace, in mutual respect, and in the continuing solution of common problems.