Engineering Feats


Engineering Feats

It requires ingenuity and daring to move water across the Front Range. Our landscape is crisscrossed with ridges, cliffs, creeks, and flash floods. Engineering learned in the gold mines of California and Colorado came in handy when Boulder's pioneers built some of the structures along Boulder's ditches.

Left: Lining ditches can help control large leaks and seeps. Linings are made of concrete, Gunite, or rubberized fabrics. Since 1990, the Silver Lake Ditch has lined 1/6th of its length with rubberized fabric, to stop leaks in the Canyon Park and Knollwood areas.

Right: Tunnels were dug through hard-rock ridges, to secure a safer way for the water through a cliff-zone. Enlarging the Community Canal Tunnel, ca. 1909. Photo courtesy of FRICO collection.

Bottom: Flumes were used by Boulder's junior ditches (Community Ditch and Silver Lake Ditch) to traverse steep canyon walls and convey water out of the creek at a point higher than other more senior ditches. Originally these flumes were made of wood and leaked badly. The wood has since been replaced by steel pipe. The Silver Lake Ditch originally had 5 wooden flumes traversing the cliffs of Boulder Canyon. Photo by Ev Long.

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