By Janice Dunnahoo
Special to the Daily Record
Well, here we are at the first of September, it has been a long, hot and very strange summer, in more than one way. With that being said, what would we do without our parks system here in Roswell? The days are going to start getting cooler, and we are so lucky that we generally have a long and temperate fall, which is conducive to many outdoor activities, much of which can be enjoyed in one of our many parks. Whether it’s biking, walking, golfing, swimming, family gatherings, or even just an evening picnic. Let’s get out and enjoy the fresh air, the cooler weather, in one of our many parks around town, and don’t forget the bird sanctuary, what a treat.
Today, I would like to feature the beginnings of our park system here in Roswell. The first park and swimming recreation area was named “Haynes’ Dream,” and the gentleman who started it was Charles Wesley Haynes.
The first portion of this article is taken from Elvis Fleming’s archives manuscript, “Haynes’ Dream Was Forerunner to Cahoon Park”
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“Charles Wesley Haynes was a sheriff, a prominent businessman, cattleman, and public official in Southeast New Mexico for about 25 years around the turn of the 20th century. What he can most be remembered for, however, was the founding of “Haynes’ Dream” Park, which became what we know of as “Cahoon Park.”
Charles W. Haynes and his wife Bette moved from Missouri to New Mexico Territory in 1883. He first settled in Las Vegas to ranch cattle for five years near Fort Sumner. In 1888, Haynes moved his ranch to Lincoln County, located some 30 miles north of Roswell.
“When Chaves County was organized in 1891, that put his ranch in Chaves County where Governor Thornton appointed Charles Haynes to the position of sheriff after his predecessor had fled with $7,639.02 in Chaves County tax funds to Mexico City and rendezvoused there with a woman.
“In the early 1900s, Haynes went into business with C.D. Bonney. Their main business was real estate development. It was during this time, Haynes established the commercial ‘Haynes’ Addition,’ which was between Second and Third along the north side of West Second from Union to Sunset.
“Many old-timers said that the North Spring River was from 40 to 65 feet wide in those days, and it ran 10 to 20 feet deep with clear water. From 1900 to 1903, Haynes bought several parcels of land on both sides of the North Spring River and west of North Washington Avenue. Haynes and Bonney started building a dam on the beautiful river and completed it on 17 Jan. 1902. It was located about a hundred yards upstream from the present location of the swimming pool in Cahoon Park. Haynes had started building the ‘Haynes Power Canal’ on 8 Nov. 1901, taking water from the north bank of the river and running it to the Haynes and Bonney power plant. “Bonney’s son, Cecil, described it in his book as being made of native rock. Bonney writes, ‘The old… electric plant was located just north and west of what is today Cahoon Park, on West Seventh Street, west of Union Avenue … The water was conveyed in a ditch to the … electric plant, where it dropped into a deep wooden shaft. A large turbine waterwheel was located in the shaft. The force of the water turned the wheel, developing sufficient power to operate the … plant, produce enough electricity for the city, and pump water. From the shaft, the water was conveyed back to the river by another ditch…’ The official documents show that the ditch was 2,200 ft. long. The canal was 15 feet wide at the bottom, 24-feet wide at the top, and 3 feet deep. It carried 150 cubic feet of water per second.
“In almost the same location as the present Cahoon Park swimming pool, Haynes built a ‘cement swimming pool, with a long row of clean, light bathhouses on the south side of the pool’ according to Georgia Redfield. An early eyewitness to the park was Earl Dixon, who first saw Haynes’ Park in 1915. Dixon described the pool as large, and ‘at the east end was an oversized gazebo with the high diving board on the top floor for the stronger at heart and the lower floor was for the band concerts on Sunday afternoons.’
“The dam west of the swimming pool, Haynes put a landing for the main attraction of the park, a powerboat called ‘Katie.’ Dixon states, ‘An awful loud shrill whistle would signal its arrival to take on another load of passengers for a 2-mile ride up the river. The Katie was a small steam-boat that could handle about 20 passengers, and as the fares were 15 cents for adults and 5 cents for the kiddies, all ages took part.
“Cecil Bonney described Haynes as ‘a short, heavyset man with a genial benevolence toward us kids who, for a dime apiece, could embark on 10-minute trips aboard the M.S. Katie, a tiny naphtha launch.’
“Haynes also had rowboats or canoes for rent and a small zoo was one of the most popular features among his attractions at Haynes’ Dream. It included coyotes, raccoons, badgers, prairie dogs, deer, antelope, a black bear, and numerous New Mexico birds and fish.
“Haynes’ Park was the first picnic ground provided for Roswell people, and had seats under the big trees that were enjoyed by Roswell people and teachers, as well as children on school outings.
“Dixon describes the scenery at Haynes’ Dream; ‘trees were everywhere… Wildflowers were in abundance and gave out with all the colors to add to the greenery of the grass, water, and trees of Haynes’ Dream… On the ride up the river, the larger cottonwoods reached across the river with their shade and in the hot weather, this was certainly an enjoyable cool ride on the Katie and a fine way to spend a Sunday afternoon. Along the sides of the river were walkways, which were well traveled and those trails took you by old Indian camps… Plenty of fish were still in the streams. …’
“C. W. Haynes died at home on Dec. 16, 1914, of a stroke. He was 73 years old. Haynes was buried in South Park Cemetery in a family plot that also contained the graves of his second wife Eva and his son-in-law W. C. Burris.
“By 1914, Haynes’ finances apparently were slipping, and he mortgaged his park property. There were efforts to acquire the park and make it a city park. The Brown – Vicar Land Company held an option on the park, and approached the city of Roswell and the Roswell Commercial Club about converting Haynes’ Dream into a city park to be called Haynes’ Park. On Jan. 6, 1914, the City Council passed a resolution agreeing to acquire the land at the appropriate time.
“For unknown reasons, the 1914 proposal for the city to acquire Haynes’ Dream fell through. Haynes family continued to operate the park through the 1915 season, May 1, Sept. 21. The land was then turned over to several creditors. Others continued to run the park and swimming pool until about 1922.
“The status of the park from 1922 two 1935 is not clear. Apparently, local folks continued to use the grounds for picnics and other recreation; but there was nobody to take care of the park. Clarence Adams, local historian, believed the river began to dry up about 1924. He believes the park was abandoned because the river ceased to flow and a flood washed out the dam and the swimming pool.
“The city of Roswell in several land acquisitions around 1929, began to assume control over the former Haynes’ Dream as a city park and future golf course.
“Edward A. Calhoun founded the Bank of Roswell, which opened for business on July 26, 1890. Through his bank, which in 1899 became the First National Bank, Cahoon contributed much to the development of Southeast New Mexico by financing farms, ranches and houses.
“Following his death on Dec. 23, 1934, the Roswell City Council passed a resolution to express the respect, admiration, and love for him by the people of Roswell. The resolution, number 455, Jan. 1, 1935 concluded, ‘Be it resolved that the parks along North Spring River from Washington Avenue to the city limits on the west, being named ‘CAHOON PARK.’’”
Following is just one of many articles I found on community excursions to Haynes’ Dream Park.
Roswell Daily Record
May 31, 1932
“4th of July Celebration
“HAYNES’ DREAM PARK
“Sponsored by the American Legion
“Everybody Welcome, Come One, and All
“Golf Tournament, Mt. View Golf Course, 8 a.m. to 12 noon. Many valuable prizes.
“Fat man’s race and potato race, 9 to 10 a.m. Prizes.
“Menu for FREE LUNCH, served promptly at 12 noon:
“Barbecue, bread, pickles, onions, coffee, cream and sugar. Bring your cups, plates, knives, forks, and spoons. But, if you don’t, they can be purchased on the grounds at a nominal cost.
“Jitney dance on large open air platform, beginning at 4:30 PM, and lasting until 12 midnight. Leonard’s Orchestra.
“There will be a lunch stand on the grounds where supper can be purchased at a reasonable price.
“Ground Display of Fireworks at Roswell airport at 8 PM – Plenty of parking space for cars. This will be the largest display of fireworks ever exhibited in New Mexico. A memorable occasion.”
Another quote from Mr. Dixon in the Old-Timers Review: “What happened to those days in Roswell when families would gather and recreate together as they did around Hayne’s Dream in the early 1900s?
“This area along the North Spring River was where the community gathered to socialize and recreate. Families gathered and were seated on the many grassy spots around the pool and bandstand to visit and enjoy the fine and simple pleasures of those days. The weekends were always looked forward to with anticipation and being the small town that Roswell was then, it seemed as though this was a large family affair where friendliness was in the air and caused a spirit that was over the entire area of Haynes’ Dream.”
Take your family, invite your friends, take a picnic, go out and enjoy the cooler days of late summer, early fall, in one of Roswell’s many parks.
Janice Dunnahoo is chief archivist at the Historical Society for Southeast New Mexico Archives. She can be reached at 575-622-1176 or at email@example.com.