Water started flowing in downtown Glenwood | PostIndependent.com

Water started flowing in downtown Glenwood

Frontier DiaryWilla SoncartyRegistrar, Frontier Historical Society and MuseumGlenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Photo Courtesy Frontier Historical SocietyA group of boys target practice from the water flume in Glenwood Canyon, photo undated. The original flume was constructed in 1887 to 1888, and supplied water from No Name Creek to Glenwood Springs.

“The wise man lays by water for a rainy day, but the foolish drink beer and bathe in the dew when the hydrant goes dry.” – Glenwood Post, Oct. 14, 1899 Sept. 1, 1888, marked the end of anticipation in Glenwood Springs. It was on that date that residents could tap into a now-completed municipal water system. Clear and pure water from No Name Creek now conveniently would pour through the faucets, making life easier for all.This elaborate water system channeled No Name Creek waters downward to a wooden flume, 7,000 feet in length. Another 6,000 feet of pipes brought the water to the north side of the Colorado River, and then ultimately into town. At more than 5 million gallons per day, enough water would be available for household use, firefighting, electric power generation, street irrigation, and for use at the hot spring pool complex. Now obsolete was Mr. Green, who for many years sold water to residents from his water wagon. While advertised as a perfect and modern water system, these new works were not without problems. The flume was easily vandalized. Rock or snow slides could destroy parts of the flume. Repairs would not be easy to make, potentially leaving Glenwood Springs dry for days.After 11 years of operation, the receipt of these clear crystal waters was taken for granted. There had been times when the flume failed. However, it was simply assumed water would be available and flow each time faucets turned.Glenwood Springs residents fell into a restful sleep the evening of Monday, Oct. 9, 1899. During the night, a heavy snow fell, weighting down leaf-laden trees to the point of damage. So it was on Tuesday morning, as residents dealt with the snow, they also found a new dilemma: Glenwood Springs had not a drop of water.Something damaged the flume during the night. Residents were furious. “The ears of the chaste water company burned and tingled as curses both loud and deep were hurled at its innocent head,” wrote the Glenwood Post newspaper. Rumors abounded that the flume repair would take days. Some longed for Mr. Green and his water wagon’s return.However, nature provided a remedy for the enterprising. As the sun rose and warmed the day, the previous night’s snow began to melt. Buckets, tubs and pans caught the water gushing from building eaves. Every drop was hoarded.Water service resumed that afternoon. However, residents were reminded that water, no matter how it was provided, was a gift never to be taken for granted. “Frontier Diary” is provided to the Post Independent by the Frontier Historical Society and Museum, 1001 Colorado Ave., Glenwood Springs. The Frontier Historical Museum will be closed through Oct. 6 for cleaning and exhibit change. It will reopen Monday, Oct. 8, with winter hours – 1-4 p.m. Monday and Thursday through Saturday.

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