San Miguel River: Nathaniel P. Turner’s hanging flume on the canyon wall is slowly being stabilized and preserved



Click on the thumbnail graphics to the right for photos of the canyon wall and the flume.

Here’s the link to for the history. Here’s an excerpt:

The Flume was constructed using earthen and wooden canals, wooden bents and a wooden box that were secured together by iron rods and fasteners. Without photographs, engineered drawings or written accounts of the Flume’s construction, experts can only speculate on how it was built. In 2004, a group of scientists set out to unravel a complex and fascinating story with dimensions that went far beyond ordinary technical questions. It is estimated that 25 men worked on the flume and used local materials. The iron rods were custom shaped on-site by hand. The wood for the beams and trestles was logged from nearby Pine Flats in Utah and Carpenter Ridge in Colorado.

To reach the water pressure necessary to adequately mine the placer deposits, the Hanging Flume had to achieve a .17% grade – that’s only a 90 foot drop over the near 10 mile long Flume. Without today’s sophisticated equipment, we can only speculate that they used triangulation to stay on track. Many mysteries remain, and investigation continues into the wonder that is the Hanging Flume.

Here’s a report about a January 24 slideshow and lecture about the flume, from the Telluride Watch. From the article:

The Hanging Flume once carried 23 million gallons of water a day to a placer mining operation on Mesa Creek Flats between Gateway and Uravan, along what is now Hwy 141. It took three years to build, starting in 1889, and only functioned for three more years, when eastern investors gave up on the fine alluvial gold, and the flume, an engineering marvel for that (or any other) time, was left to history.

Flume expert Jerald Reid will try to the put the historical pieces together Tuesday night Jan. 24 (at 7 p.m.) with a talk and slide show at the KAFM Radio Room in Grand Junction.

Reid was born in Oklahoma and lived most of his life on the Western Slope. He was a machinist for 40 years in the Grand Valley. He and his wife Margaret, both outdoor enthusiasts, became interested in the Hanging Flume but found frustratingly little information about it. That started them researching and documenting it.

More San Miguel River watershed coverage here and here.