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Preservationists Hope to Fund Final Touches on McElmo Creek Flume

Colorado Preservation, Inc.

Just east of Cortez, near the Montezuma County Fairgrounds, an old wooden structure crosses McElmo creek.

Called a “flume,” it was built at the end of the 1800s to carry water to Montezuma County before McPhee Reservoir was finished in the early 1990s. After use of the flume was dicontinued, it sat in disrepair for about 20 years. Then, in 2012, local preservation groups and some government organizations started restoring it and building a parking lot for visitors to see it. That parking lot is now complete, and the Montezuma County department has received a grant to repair the structure of the flume itself. But the groups involved with restoring the flume are still short on cash to finish the project. KSJD's Austin Cope talked with Montezuma County Historic Preservation Consultant Linda Towle and Trail of the Ancients National Scenic Byway Coordinator Susan Thomas to find out more.

More information about the flume restoration project can be found at

CORRECTION: A previous version of the story reported the flume as "west" of Cortez. It is actually east of Cortez. The story has been changed to correct Austin's brain lapse.

Austin Cope is a former Morning Edition host for KSJD and now produces work on a freelance basis for the station. He grew up in Cortez and hosted a show on KSJD when he was 10 years old. After graduating from Montezuma-Cortez High School in 2010, he lived in Belgium, Ohio, Spain, northern Wyoming, and Himachal Pradesh, India before returning to the Cortez area. He has a degree in Politics from Oberlin College in Ohio.
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