Montezuma County: The McElmo Creek Flume named to Colorado Preservation Inc.’s 2011 Most Endangered Places list

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From the Cortez Journal (Kimberly Benedict):

The McElmo Creek Flume, an irrigation flume located three miles east of Cortez near the Montezuma County Fairgrounds, was named to Colorado Preservation Inc.’s 2011 Most Endangered Places list last week. The flume is the first site of its kind to gain such recognition. “This nomination was really interesting for us because I don’t know if anyone on our staff was familiar with the flume when it was first nominated,” said Patrick Eidman, Endangered Places program manager. “We like to see diversity, not just a list of homes in Denver, but all the different historic resources, and this was the first water conveyance site that was nominated.”[…]

The local site was nominated for placement on the list by the Cortez Historical Preservation Board, Montezuma Valley Irrigation Co., the Montezuma County Board of Commissioners, the Montezuma County Historical Society, and the Dolores Water Conservancy District. The flume was one of six sites chosen from a list of 44 nominees. It is the first site in Montezuma County to garner recognition as an endangered place. “Our water history is so important in this state,” Eidman said. “You can’t separate the development of Colorado from water history. Having a water resource on the list speaks directly to that importance. It is a really interesting resource, and I loved its story and recognized right away it would be a cool site for us. It is very evocative for people in Colorado when you start talking about water.”

The McElmo flume was one of roughly 104 flumes constructed throughout Montezuma County to transport irrigation water across canals and arroyos in the region. The original flume system was conceived in the late 1800s, according to Les Nunn, manager of Montezuma Valley Irrigation Co. from 1978 to 2006. “The flumes were built to deliver water throughout the Montezuma Valley,” Nunn said. “In 1920, MVI started using the flumes when they bought out Montezuma Valley Irrigation Water District. At that time, there were 104 flumes on the system.”

More Montezuma County coverage here.

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