Colorado’s Hanging Flume: Investigating an Engineering Mystery

In western Colorado, an incredible feat of engineering clings to sheer canyon walls hundreds of feet above the Dolores and San Miguel rivers. Built in the 1880s, the Hanging Flume diverted water for placer mining. The flume has captivated historians and tourists alike, but no one has been able to determine exactly how the seven miles of hanging flume were built in just a few years in such a remote and inhospitable location. Several expeditions to document the structure have yielded a surprising variety of construction methods. With only ten percent of the flume documented, though, there are still valuable clues waiting to be discovered.

With grant funding raised by the Interpretive Association of Western Colorado (IAWC), the original project team of historians, wood scientists, engineers and difficult access experts is ready for the next expedition to the flume, but a funding gap of $20,000 remains. The IAWC is asking for contributions to close the gap at https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/help-save-the-historic-hanging-flume#/story.

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