In 1905, Ramon Lujan (then owner of Hacienda de Salaices) invited all the neighboring land owners to join forces to build a dam on the Santa Barbara River so they could all irrigate their land. His neighbors thought he was crazy and refused to participate. Determined to irrigate more of his land, Lujan borrowed money on credit to build the dam and fix up the hacienda.

The dam, called El Preson de Talamantes, is small but brought much needed water into Salaices. Anyone who wanted to irrigate had to come to the casa grande to get the keys needed to open irrigation gates on the aqueduct.

Water flowed through the aqueduct for crop irrigation, drinking, and power to run the grist mill at the end of the aqueduct. It was built by hand using local materials and no cement; lime was used as the mortar between stones. It performed its role very effectively for many years. Unfortunately it hasn't been maintained and is no longer useable. Those portions of the aqueduct that still stand are exquisite examples of construction.

When Lujan returned from his duties in the Revolution, he discovered that his doubting neighbors had siphoned off the aqueduct water for their own use, leaving little for Salaices' needs. Loss of his water source contributed to Lujan ultimately losing the property to the National Bank of Agriculture.

A large portion of the aqueduct runs through an orchard now owned by Francisco Salazar Rendon. The area is used as a walnut and experimental fruit tree orchard. This area used to be the center of activity for the hacienda de Salaices (in the days of the hacendados).

Molino (grist mill)

In front of what's now the home of Sra. Maria Dolores Armendariz, is the aqueduct's end funnel and grist mill. (The aqueduct terminates in her front yard.) The funnel caused more pressure in the water flow, which created the power required to turn the gears and, therefore, enough power to turn the "Molino" (grinding stones).

The Molino (grist mill) was used to grind wheat into flour for the hacendados and hacienda workers. Salaices resident Donaciano Salazar Rendon remembers, "Even though I was small, I would work holding the sacks open so they could fill them. I was earning 1 peso."

The bed for the grinding stones is in what's now Maria Dolores front patio; it has not been disturbed or filled in. One stone now sits across the narrow street from her home. Donaciano Salazar said, "It hasn't been that long that both rocks were there; there's only one left. They're very, very heavy and sometimes we stop and think, 'how did the water move them?'"
Molino photos

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1999. A section of the aqueduct built during the ownership of Ramon Lujan. Local materials and mortar were used, but no cement or concrete.



Aqueduct & Molino

Note: The information on this page was extracted from the book, "Salaices - The History & the Family," by Marti Conger, Phillip Salaices, and José Luis Aguayo. Contact (for the US and Canada), or (other countries)

Water & the Spanish Law
The Spaniards instituted their laws where only centuries-old customs existed. They transported their State to the colonized territories where they applied iron clad laws that were issued in Spain for three centuries. The laws covered every element of the social fabric - civil life and politics, the affairs of war, every branch of the economy, how land was divided, mine registrations, etc.

An example of the impact of these laws is the use of water, which began to be regulated very early in the Conquest. Water regulations brought with them many of the same customs and uses that the ancient Romans and Arabs had applied to Spain during their occupations. The regulations controlled the rivers, irrigation channels, the aqueducts, storages facilities, etc. Water was considered communal property where it crossed boundaries of cities or villages. These regulations included detail for apportioning water to each user. Naming water judges or irrigators for each locale was a very serious and delicate matter that was important to the entire community.

This Spanish form of distributing water was done in irrigation channels that were in the river. Methods also existed for distributing water based on religious days. "To the hacienda de Corrales from the day of the Candelaria, or February 2, until the first normal rains arrived."