Here’s a opinion piece from the Montrose Daily Press detailing some of the history behind the Gunnison Tunnel. From the article:
[Francis Lauzon] introduced his idea to the townspeople who began to call him the “Crazy Frenchman.” Lauzon was able to convince the Montrose County Commissioners to put funding his idea up to a vote, but the measure failed. Tireless, Lauzon continued to push his idea and in 1894 the U.S. Geological Survey performed the first surveying expedition to determine if the tunnel was feasible. Lauzon appears to have disappeared shortly after this, but a new advocate, one with clout and admiration, soon took up the cause.
By all accounts, Mead Hammond of Paonia was an upright, humble public servant who represented the district in the state house. Hammond’s passion for and belief in the future of the Uncompahgre Valley clearly motivated him. He introduced and worked to pass House Bill 195, “a bill for State Canal No. 3,” in the 1901 General Assembly. The bill authorized $25,000 to begin boring the tunnel using convicts for labor.
More Gunnison Basin coverage here.