Near Cortez in Montezuma County, Colorado — The American Mountains (Southwest)
Preserving the McElmo Creek Flume
Preservation of historic sites is important if we are to understand the past. Without this water delivery system, Cortez would not have been founded. The Valley did not have a river so water was diverted from the Dolores River, and distributed through flumes like this one.
Many local residents were concerned by the rapid deterioration of the Flume, and in 2011 it was listed on the Colorado List of Endangered Places. In 2012, it was listed on the National Register of Historic Places for its significance to the water history of Montezuma county, and to the settlement of the West.
The first step in preserving the Flume was to assess the condition of the wood, and the concrete and steel foundation.
The most threatened part of the foundation was the south end where erosion had cut back
Much of the concrete, applied in 1955, had cracked and some of the steel girders needed to be cleaned of corrosion.
In the winter of 2016, the necessary repairs were completed including new footers for the south end of the flume and rip-rap to protect against future erosion.
A work in progress
The wooden trough will be re-built using about 30% of the original wood that still remains in good or fair condition. This work should be completed by 2018.
Montezuma County received four grants from the History Colorado State Historical Fund to assess the condition of the foundation and the wooden trough, and then repair these elements.
Matching funds for this historic preservation work were provided by the Southwest Basin Roundtable of the Colorado Water Board, the Southwest Water Conservancy District, the Ballantine Family Fund, Montezuma County, the Montezuma County Historical Society, The Ute Mountain Ute Tribe, Montezuma Valley Irrigation, and private donations.
So please walk to the Flume overlook on your left, and see the historic McElmo Creek Flume. It has a story to tell.
Left: The McElmo Flume in operation sometime in the early 1980s.
Top right: The McElmo Flume in the early 2000s shortly after
Bottom right: The McElmo Flume in 2015 before rehabilitation work began.
Left: Preparations being made for new footers at the south end of the Flume.
Center: Form work for the new concrete footers.
Right: The finished product armored with boulders to prevent erosion.
Left: Ron Anthony of Anthony & Assocs. sampling the wood in the trough of the Flume.
Center: Rehabilitation team evaluating the concrete and steel.
Right: Concrete encased steel support structure showing corrosion and spalling of concrete.
[Bottom left block]
Top right: Southern supports of Flume prior to rehabilitation.
Bottom left: Project Engineer evaluating the integrity of the steel and concrete supports.
Bottom right: A member of the rehabilitation team removes old concrete.
[Bottom right block] Engineer drawings for the rehabilitation of the wooden trough.
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Agriculture • Architecture • Waterways & Vessels.
Location. 37° 20.877′ N, 108° 30.2′ W. Marker is near Cortez, Colorado, in Montezuma County. Marker is on U.S. 160 ¼ mile west of Road 30.1 , on the right when traveling east. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Cortez CO 81321, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 4 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Water Technology (within shouting distance of this marker); Greening the Valley (within shouting distance of this marker); Water is Our Story (within shouting distance of this marker); Four Corners (approx. 3.3 miles away); Cortez (approx. 3.3 miles away); Southwest Survival (approx. 3.3 miles away); Mesa Verde Country (approx. 3.3 miles away); Welcome to the San Juan Skyway (approx. 3.8 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Cortez.
Credits. This page was last revised on July 23, 2020. It was originally submitted on July 23, 2020, by Duane Marsteller of Murfreesboro, Tennessee. This page has been viewed 49 times since then. Photos: 1, 2, 3. submitted on July 23, 2020, by Duane Marsteller of Murfreesboro, Tennessee. • Andrew Ruppenstein was the editor who published this page.