McGinn Ditch


McGinn Ditch

Established: May 1 1860

Priority Number: 2

Acres under ditch: 1925 originally

Water Source: South Boulder Creek

I used to get a call every three weeks from the nuns or the father out at the abbey. The nuns would call and say, Father Ed is taking all the water that we are supposed to have. And then I would get a call from Father Ed who was in charge of the cemetery. Do something about those damn sisters! They pulled my block out and I cant dig, the ground is so hard. They had the same water right you see, but they were quarrelling over how to divide it up.

--Bill Suitts, President of the McGinn Ditch, 1972-2005

The McGinn Ditch starts close to where the Turnpike crosses South Boulder Creek, and heads northeast to 75th Street. When is crosses 75th, the McGinn becomes the Burke-Hodgson Lateral, a carrier ditch which delivers McGinn water further east. The Burke-Hodgson lateral eventually runs into the Davidson Ditch. There, the two ditches join and become the Agitator Ditch. The Agitator Ditch has no water rights of its own. It acts as a carrier ditch for Davidson and McGinn water. It ends in Bullhead Gulch, and any tail water flows down the Gulch and back to Boulder Creek.

The City of Boulder is the main owner of McGinn shares, which are valuable because they are very senior water. Louisville and Lafayette are still buying up shares of McGinn water. Water remaining in the ditch is used for agriculture on City Open Space, at the old Benedictine Abbey property, the Suitts property, and Anderson Farms. It also fills several ponds. The McGinn typically runs from May 1st to early October.


From the minutes of the McGinn Ditch Company, June 6th, 1888. Shares in the ditch company were given to the Benedictine Abbey, in exchange for work on the ditch. Two brothers, John and Edward McGinn were the original owners of the McGinn Ditch, along with the Benedictine Abbey and John DeBaker.

Minutes courtesy of City of Boulder Open Space and Mountain Parks.


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