Flume project currently in limbo

Matching funds required for state grant

By Michael Maresh

Journal Staff Writer

The latest assessment of the McElmo Flume is currently up in the air because of $4,600 in matching funds it needs to raise to receive a mini-grant from the Colorado State Historical Fund.

Cortez Historic Preservation Board President Linda Towle said the mini-grant would come from the historical funds and would be worth about $13,875; however, a 25 percent match would be required to receive the grant.

The Colorado's Scenic and Historic Byways Program has approached the Ballantine Family Foundation as a possible donor for the funding. This was after the previous Montezuma County Commission decided not to spend any funds for the assessment.

Towle said the Colorado's Scenic and Historic Byways Program turned in its request in early January and the Durango-based Ballantine foundation will make its decision sometime this month.

The grant funds would be used to assess the concrete and the steel structures of the historic flume.

Towle said she will be talking to the new county commissioners later this month, either to tell them the matching money was received or that the request was partially or fully rejected.

She said if the $4,600 is not received, she might ask the new commission (two new members took office Jan. 8) for the matching funds or to examine ways with them on how to get the money.

"I have not asked this group," she said. "I (would) have to talk to the new board to see where the funds would come from.

The McElmo Creek Flume, located just off Highway 160 near the Montezuma County Fairgrounds, was assessed in the summer to determine its condition, which was followed by a more detailed analysis to determine what to do next.

She said this assessment, which will take a few days to complete, would be the last one needed before coming up with what the cost would be to repair or rehabilitate the flume.

"You can only spend so much time addressing it before doing something," Towle said.

She said there is an idea how much it would cost to put the wood back on the flume, but added it would be foolish to do this if the concrete and steel would no longer support the structure.

When the Montezuma Valley Irrigation Company was formed in 1920, the system included more than 100 wooden flumes and 150 miles of canals.

Today, of the 104 constructed flumes, only the McElmo Creek Flume remains standing, though its condition has deteriorated over the years.