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Mining - Hanging Flume, CO


Colorado, USA. An extraordinary project, built from 1888-1891, to bring water from the San Miguel River to perched placer deposits on benches above the Dolores River. Much of the last 5 miles or so of the flume is built into the canyon wall itself, with timber supports inserted directly into the cliff face, sometimes a hundred feet in the air. (There's no mention of workplace injuries and fatal…  (read more)

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The Hanging Flume

08 Jul 2015 2 2 430
Southwestern Colorado, USA. Telephoto view from an overlook & interpretive site off State Route 141. An extraordinary project, built from 1888-1891, to bring water from the San Miguel River to perched placer deposits on benches above the Dolores River. Much of the last 5 miles or so of the flume is built into the canyon wall itself, as here, with timber supports inserted directly into the cliff face, sometimes a hundred feet in the air. (There's no mention of workplace injuries and fatalities during construction.) And after all that, the placer deposit was uneconomic--the gold was too fine and washed on thru. The company was defunct by the mid 1890s. In the last couple of decades, the flume has been the object of archeological study and is protected as a historic site. And, of course, a generation later they wouldn't have bothered with a flume, because water could have been pumped up directly from the river with gasoline engines. A little activity along that line seems to be happening today, based on some operations I saw on a hike down to the Dolores. The left insert shows a detail of the insertion of some of the supporting timbers into the sandstone; the right shows a short section that was rebuilt in 2012 as part of a "living archeology" study. A number of other views are also in the album.

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