Established: April 1 1860
Priority Number: 1
Acres under ditch: 1925 originally
Water Source: South Boulder Creek
The Howard Ditch is named for Norman Ross Howard, a Boulder pioneer who came to Colorado by ox team in 1859, looking for gold. After a short stint in the mountains near Idaho Springs, he settled on 160 acres along South Boulder Creek near Baseline Road, and plowed a small ditch from the creek down to his fields.
Three partners on his ditch included his neighbors, A. G. Burke, Mrs. Mary Hake, and George F. Chase. Chase came to Boulder in the ‘59 Gold Rush, and built the first two-story log house in the city. He was instrumental in the building of the Congregational Church downtown, and according to the Daily Camera, “was one of the enterprising pioneers who helped…secure the University of Colorado to Boulder.” Chase’s farm was where Flatirons Golf Course is today.
The Howard has one major lateral called the Super-Phostical. This lateral was probably originally named the “super-fossicula”, meaning “small upper ditch,” by Frederick Chase, George’s son. Frederick was a Yale University professor of astronomy who settled back in Boulder when he retired from teaching. Over the years, the Latin name has probably been colloquialized into “Super-Phostical.”
Today, users of Howard Ditch water include the cities of Lafayette and Louisville, Flatirons Golf Course, which fills its lake and waters with the Howard, Burke School, Boulder Open Space, Eldora Mountain Resort, and several small private owners.
Stock certificate courtesy of Howard Ditch Company. Map courtesy of Carnegie Branch Library of Local History.