Blue Mesa Dam: ‘The reservoir took away small communities, family homes, fishing resorts, a way of life’ — Delta County Independent


From the Delta County Independent (Kathy Browning):

This winter the museum has had eight presentations on pioneer families and others who made a difference in the community. Two more presentations are scheduled. On March 17 at 1:30 p.m. at the museum, Danny Cotten will give a presentation on sawmills on Black Mesa and in the Crawford area and also the Diamond JO cattle outfit in the 1880s. April 21 at 1:30 p.m., Ross Allen will talk about the Allen family and their influence on the area.

David Primus, Gunnison author and historian, gave a presentation, “Beneath Blue Mesa.” The dam was completed in 1965 on the Gunnison River about 30 miles west of Gunnison, 30 miles east of Montrose and within 1-1/2 miles of Sapinero.

Primus shared what it was like before the dam and reservoir were created. There were homes, hotels, fishing resorts, train service, bridges and cattle ranches in the small towns that were in the area. To make the area ready for the new dam and reservoir, those hotels and homes were moved or burned to the ground. Bridges were left standing and are now beneath a mountainous amount of water. The slide show featured a final cattle round up, trains connecting people and commerce, a group of boaters and fishermen and women who called themselves the Gunnison Navy and the grand opening ceremony for the Blue Mesa.

More Aspinall Unit coverage here.

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