Project to restore Hanging Flume wins state historical award

Workers guides work to restore a section of the Hanging Flume in this 2012 picture. The structure — which uses original 120-year-old supports — sits 100 feet above the San Miguel River west of Uravan. Photo special to the Sentinel.



An ambitious project to rebuild a historic flume among the cliffs above the San Miguel River south of Gateway was recently recognized for its innovative effort at reconstructing history.

The 2014 Stephen H. Hart Award was given to the Western Colorado Interpretive Association, Anthony & Associates, and the Bureau of Land Management — a presentation made by History Colorado, a charitable state agency under the Department of Higher Education.

The project to rebuild the flume was done over five days in 2012. In its day, the flume was essentially an open water chute used to transfer 80 million gallons of water per 24-hour period from the San Miguel River, through 10 miles of wooden flume and earthen ditch, according to the WCIA.

“The Hanging Flume is much more than a marvel of engineering. It is a statement driven in stone – a monument to an era of innovation and ‘can-do’ attitude in the 1880s,” the group said in a press release announcing the award.

The project, they say, was an effort to answer the question of exactly how the original flume builders were able to pull it off. Funding was made available by private funders the J.M. Kaplan Fund and the John Hendricks Family Foundation.

Today the flume is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is the longest historic structure in the state, and the most intact flume left in North America, according to the WCIA.

And in 2006, the Montrose Placer Mining Company Hanging Flume was listed as one of the “100 Most Endangered Sites in the World” by the World Monuments Fund.


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