Moffat County: Duffy irrigation tunnel

Yampa/White/Green/North Platte river basins via the Colorado Geological Survey

Here’s a look at irrigation history up in the Yampa Valley from Shannan Koucherik writing for the Craig Daily Press. From the article:

In the early 1900s, Duffy realized that the production on some of his land was limited due to lack of water. He studied the Bear (Yampa) River and the surrounding hills and devised an ambitious plan to bring water closer to those acres that showed promise.

The Dec. 22, 1904, edition of the Routt County Courier reported the initial plans that Duffy had developed with the help of an engineer. “A plan has been under consideration … to irrigate a large portion of the Bear Valley above Juniper Mountain comprised of the Hodges, K Diamond, Duffy and Murray ranches. … The plans are to tunnel through a spur of the mountain in the large bend of the river just above the ranches. The tunnel will be a little over 2,000 ft. long and will raise the water about 18 ft. above the river at the place where the tunnel emerges from the mountain.”

The work had to be done mostly in the winter with men and horses hauling out the rock and dirt that was blasted from the heart of the mountain. It took six years of hard work and considerable expense to finish the tunnel, which originally was lined with cedar posts.

The project wasn’t without its problems. The engineer made a miscalculation when figuring the digging route — done from both ends and designed to meet perfectly in the middle – and the end of the tunnel that was supposed to be the lower, ended up two feet higher than the input end. Some adjusting and extra digging solved the problem.

Click through and read the whole article.

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