McElmo Flume gets second assessment

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Julia Ausloos, an University of Colorado Denver/Boulder masterís candidate in architecture, works on creating a three-dimensional view of the McElmo Creek Flume that will be used to gauge its condition. Enlargephoto

Journal/Michael Maresh

Julia Ausloos, an University of Colorado Denver/Boulder masterís candidate in architecture, works on creating a three-dimensional view of the McElmo Creek Flume that will be used to gauge its condition.

By Michael Maresh

Journal Staff Writer

The University of Colorado Denver/Boulder visited Cortez on Monday to take a three-dimensional scan of the McElmo Creek Flume to help determine its condition.

Michael Nulty, coordinator of the University of Colorado Historic Preservation Program, and masterís graduate Julia Ausloos scanned the flume with the pictures being forwarded to Anthony & Associates Inc. which assessed the condition of the wood of the flume about two weeks ago.

Nulty said liquid detection and ranging was used Monday to get a better reading of the flumeís condition and explained Lidar is a liquid based pulsar that is able to gauge 50,000 pulses per second to help measure distances within millimeters.

Nulty and Ausloos started their assessment by installing eight points around the flume that are then linked.

Nulty said Mondayís assessment measured millions of points that were extremely accurate and the three-dimensional model eliminates the guesswork.

Once the University of Colorado Historic Preservation Program is finished with its assessment their data will be turned over to Anthony & Associates which is based in of Fort Collins.

The three-dimensional scan, he said, will be able to grade the condition of the wood rather than simply determining whether the wood used to build the flume is in good or bad condition.

Cortez Historic Preservation Board President Linda Towle, who has been the driving force in getting the flume assessed, said less than one half of the time is spent in the field to assess the historic structure that is more than 100 years old.

Montezuma County received a grant from the Colorado State Historic Fund to evaluate the preservation options for the historic flume. The flume was listed on the Colorado Preservation Most Endangered Places List in 2011 and was recently listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Towle said the majority of the work is done after the tests or assessments are done on the project on site. She said that Anthony & Associates will use both what it learned on its site visit along with the data gathered from the University of Coloradoís Historic Preservation Programís assessment.

James Dietrich, public lands program for the county, said it has many resources for prehistoric projects, but added much more still needs to be learned about historical projects that are essentially in its own backyard.

Dietrich said the location of the flume, just feet off of Highway 160, in itself was unique.

ďIt was like it was meant to be,Ē he said in explaining the assessments that have been undertaken in recent weeks.

When the irrigation company was formed in 1920, the system included more than 100 wooden flumes and 150 miles of canals.

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

Towle said the Montezuma County Commission will receive a report once the assessment has been completed and it will decide what to do next.

michaelm@cortezjournal.com