The historic McElmo Flume No. 6 has been officially saved after seven years of fundraising and restoration work.
The community is invited to a ribbon-cutting that will feature local and state historians who will tell the story of the 1890s water structure on Nov. 30 at 10 a.m.
Because of limited parking space at the flume, participants are asked to meet at the north side of the Montezuma County Fairgrounds’ main building for a bus ride to the overlook site. Hot chocolate and coffee will be served.
In case of bad weather, the program will move to a room inside the fairgrounds building. Afterward, the hardy can board a bus for the official ribbon-cutting at the flume and a blessing by Terry Knight, Ute Mountain historical preservation officer.
Historian Linda Towle has led the effort to save the wooden structure in cooperation with the Montezuma County Board of Commissioners. It is the last surviving of 104 flumes that delivered water across arroyos and canyons as part of the original large-scale canal system that helped establish local agriculture and the town of Cortez.
“It’s finished and officially saved,” she said of the flume, which is on the National Register of Historic Places. “It is an artifact the tells the story of our history in the Montezuma Valley.”
The restored flume became a priority for restoration after it made the state of Colorado’s Most Endangered Places in 2011.
The one-hour program and presentation includes speeches from local and state dignitaries.
Speakers include a county commissioner and staff; Susan Thomas, director of Trails of the Ancients; Kim Grant, director of the Endangered Places program; Tim Strohl, director of the Colorado Historical Fund; and Mike Preston, chairman of Southwest Basin Roundtable.
The McElmo Creek Flume is on county land east of Cortez on U.S. Highway 160. A point-of-interest highway pullout directs visitors to the site. A walkway and overlook with information panels explains the history of the water structure.
The overlook includes a highway pullout, was made possible by $375,000 in state historical and federal highway grants and $100,000 in local fundraising, including from the county, local water districts, and individuals.
The foundation was rebuilt by Triad Construction Inc., and the wooden trough was restored by Burt Ramsey, of Cortez-based Ramco Developments Inc. More than half the wood on the original flume was reused in the restoration. Until 1991, the flume was part of the the Montezuma Valley Irrigation Co. system.