“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Near Cortez in Montezuma County, Colorado — The American Mountains (Southwest)

Greening the Valley

Greening the Valley Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Duane and Tracy Marsteller, July 10, 2020
1. Greening the Valley Marker
Inscription.  Starting in the 1880's, construction of the original irrigation canals and lateral ditches was done by hand using teams of horses and mules. Equipment was simple and crude by today's standards, consisting of horse drawn graders, scrapers and hand labor.

An accurate grade had to be surveyed first to assure adequate flow, and then the route was determined based on arable land and ownership. At first, water was routed to fields through ditch systems owned and operated by private irrigation companies.

In 1904 the county established Montezuma Valley Irrigation District to replace the private companies, who had struggled to manage water levels in the individual systems and collect on delinquent water bills.

In 1920 Montezuma Valley Irrigation Company replaced the District and issued shares to customers that could be sold after a period of non-payment. The company operates a 108-mile system of upgraded canals and ditches today.

Topography presented a significant challenge for the early irrigation system builders. Before the invention of steel and concrete culverts and the ability to compact fill material around
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them, a flume was often used to cross arroyos. A flume is a suspended trough that carries water over the drainage, supported by piers or pillars which keep the water flowing at grade. The McElmo Flume was #6 of 104 flumes in the original 150-mile system, used until 1991 when a pipeline replaced it. Flume #6 carried water through the Highline Canal to the South Montezuma Valley and beginning in 1955 to the Ute Mountain Ute community of Towaoc. To fulfill the promises of the Colorado Ute Indian Water Rights Settlement of 1986, in 2000 the Dolores Project was constructed and delivered water to the Tribe for its 7,700 acre Tribal Farm and Ranch Enterprise and also for a clean drinking water supply for the first time. As a result of the Dolores Project, Flume #6 was replaced by the Towaoc-Highline Canal, and today serves as reminder of the ingenuity and determination demonstrated by its builders 100 years ago.
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: AgricultureNative AmericansWaterways & Vessels. A significant historical year for this entry is 1880.
Location. 37° 20.879′ N, 108° 30.176′ W. Marker is near Cortez, Colorado, in Montezuma County. Marker can be reached from U.S. 160, ¼ mile west of Road 30.1, on the right when traveling east. Marker is located on a deck overlooking the McElmo Creek Flume. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Cortez CO 81321, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers.
Greening the Valley Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Duane and Tracy Marsteller, July 10, 2020
2. Greening the Valley Marker
Marker is on the left.
At least 8 other markers are within 4 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Water is Our Story (here, next to this marker); Water Technology (here, next to this marker); Preserving the McElmo Creek Flume (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 August 18, 2020. It was originally submitted on July 23, 2020, by Duane and Tracy Marsteller of Murfreesboro, Tennessee. This page has been viewed 102 times since then and 16 times this year. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on July 23, 2020, by Duane and Tracy Marsteller of Murfreesboro, Tennessee. • Andrew Ruppenstein was the editor who published this page.

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Sep. 24, 2023