Jones and Donnelly Ditch

Jones & Donnelly Ditch

Established: May 1 1860

Priority Number: 3

Acres under ditch: 360 originally

Water Source: South Boulder Creek

The Jones & Donnelly Ditch is named for two early Valmont settlers: T. J. “Tommy” Jones and Edward Donnelly, who both owned farms in the area. Serving only 360 acres, it was probably a small hand-dug ditch built by a couple of property owners.

Today, Xcel Energy owns about half of Jones & Donnelly shares and uses them to fill the Valmont Lakes. The remaining shares are very valuable to farmers, because they can provide late season water to crops. Jones & Donnelly water rights are “senior” to many other ditches. This means that they can usually keep their ditch running well into the fall, long after the creek drops and cuts off other “junior” ditches.

The Jones & Donnelly Ditch and the Butte Mill Ditch are “sister” ditches. Jones & Donnelly dumps into the Butte Mill, which carries its water out to farmers further east. Jones & Donnelly water allows farmers such as CURE Organic Farms to raise late season vegetables for the Farmers Market. The 2 ditches also have overlapping boards of directors, and many of the same shareholders.

According to the History of Clear Creek and Boulder Valleys, Colorado, Tommy J. Jones (1820-1897) had “always lived on the border” and was “a true type of the pioneers of the West.” Born in Illinois, he moved west to Nebraska for a few years. Then, with his wife and 3 children:

“he took the Pike’s Peak gold fever, and came to this country arriving in Boulder the 14th of May, 1859, with the wagon loads of goods, which he sold off immediately, and went to mining in Gold Run. Returned in the fall of that year, and the following spring brought out his family and went to Gold Dirt, where he sold goods, and built the big Gold Dirt Hotel. But, before going to the mountains, in July, 1859, he took up his Valmont ranche, to have something to fall back on, and he fell back to it in 1862, where he is living at present, most of the time keeping the only hotel of the place, having, also, a valuable farm that has never known the ‘ornament’ of a mortgage.”

This building was originally the stage stop and boarding house of T.J. "Tommy" Jones, in Valmont. It was built of whip-sawn lumber, ca. 1860.

The Donnelly homestead at the base of Valmont Butte, 1893. 

Photos courtesy of Carnegie Branch Library of Local History.

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