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Collections M 103 and I 052:
Pine River Irrigation District (La Plata County, Colo.) records (including records on microfilm) inventory


Years this material was created: 1930-1989
Quantity: 8 linear shelf feet (in 10 document cases and 1 flat lidded box) and 3 rolls of 16mm microfilm

Links to contents

scope and contents

Historical note

Series descriptions

Administrative information

Digital images

Container list

Related collections

Other collection inventories
Center of Southwest Studies

Introduction/ Scope and contents

M 103 and I 052
Pine River Irrigation District records 
5 linear shelf feet (in 10 document cases) and 3 rolls of 16mm microfilm (ap
proximately 1,500 items)

This collection consists of records relating to the construction and operation of Vallecito Reservoir (Bayfield, Colo.) and related irrigation in La Plata County and vicinity.  It includes annual reports, operations reports and statistics as original documents in Collection M 103 (obtained in early 1990 through the cooperation of Warren Joe Brown, Dam Supervisor), plus (in Collection I 052) 3 rolls of microfilm of 4 boxes of records that the Pine River Irrigation District loaned for filming at and by the Center in March-April of 1993, and a 4" piece of rebar from that used in Vallecito Dam construction.  It is comprised of accessions 1990:01001, 1993:03003, 1993:04003, and 1993:04005.   The Center of Southwest Studies also has been digitizing an album of black and white photoprints (many of them, large; with typed captions) depicting the work of Major C. A. Burns, construction engineer with the Army Corps of Engineers, in the construction of the Vallecito Dam, 1938-1940 (accession 2005:09015; originals on loan from the Friends of Pine River Public Library).

Historical note

As early as 1906, the development of the Vallecito Dam began with a need to supply the Pine River Valley with late season irrigation water.  The project was transferred from the Indian Irrigation Service to the Bureau of Reclamation for construction in August 1936.  On February 11, 1937, the name of the dam was officially changed from Pine River Dam to Vallecito Dam to avoid confusion.  On June 17, 1937, the President approved construction of the dam.  All land purchase agreements and easements were completed by early 1939. 

Bids for construction of Vallecito Dam were opened in Durango, Colorado, on December 15, 1937.  The Martin Wunderlich Company of Jefferson City, Missouri, submitted the winning bid: $2,115,870. Clearing and stripping of the dam site began on May 14, 1937.  Excavations ranged in depth from fifteen to fifty feet.  Most of the work was completed by the end of 1938.  Much of the material excavated from the channel was screened and used in the dam embankment.

On May 19, 1938, the Weston Lumber Company of Denver contracted with the government for the purchase and removal of all saleable lumber (an estimated five million board feet) from the Vallecito Reservoir site. 

It was necessary to relocate the valley road because the construction of the dam would flood the existing road.  The contract for relocation of the first portion of the road was awarded to the Martin Wunderlich Company on August 30, 1938 and construction was completed in late December 1938.  A temporary cofferdam was constructed to close the channel on April 18, 1940 and at noon on April 21, water flowed through the outlet works for the first time.  On September 3, 1949, the Bureau of Reclamation awarded the contract for completion of the road relocation around the reservoir site to the Wood, Morgan, and Burnett Construction Company of Durango, Colorado.

Vallecito Dam is a zoned earth fill structure 162 feet high and 4,010 feet long.  The maximum width of the base from upstream toe to downstream toe is 900 feet; the crest is 35 feet wide.  The total volume of material in the dam embankment is 3,738,000 cubic yards.  The maximum flow through the outlet works is 3,000 cubic feet per second (cfs).   The total capacity of the spillway is 33,000 cfs.  Vallecito Reservoir has a total water storage capacity of 129,700 acre-feet, with the water surface elevation at 7,665 feet above sea level.  The surface area of the reservoir at maximum capacity is 2,720 acres.  Distribution of project water is through a series of privately owned ditches and canals, all of which were constructed prior to the construction of Vallecito Dam.  Most of the ditches and canals divert water directly from the Pine River.  There are nearly 200 miles of ditches and canals, and 150 miles of laterals throughout the region are served by project water.  Vallecito Dam was dedicated on September 14, 1941 and placed in operational status in early 1942.  The first water became available to irrigators in 1941.

Source of the preceding historical sketch: http://www.usbr.gov/dataweb/html/pineriverh.html#Construction%20History (website accessed 11/8/04)

Administrative information

About the organization of this collection: The series and boxes in these collections are numbered consecutively.  The boxes are numbered in one single numbering scheme starting with 1.  Unless noted otherwise, the arrangement within each series is chronological by the date of the creation of the document.

Acquisition of this collection: Many of the printed materials in collection M 103 were obtained through the cooperation of Warren Joe Brown, Vallecito Dam Supervisor, in early 1990 (accession 1990:01001).  Photocopies of originals loaned by PRID (Pine River Irrigation District) were made at Basin Reproduction in Durango in April, 1993 (144 that are size 11x17" and 142 that are size 8.5 x 11" of the right edge of oversize originals) (accession 1993:04003). Additional components (accession 1993:03003)of this collection are (in artifacts storage) a 4" piece of rebar from that used in Vallecito Dam construction, duplicates of 3 bid specs, and permission to reproduce 4 boxes of records  loaned to the Center by the Pine River Irrigation District for microfilming.

Processing information:  ___, archival student assistant at the Center, produced the folder list of the hard copy records (Collection M 103) in October 2007.  The historical sketch was by archival student assistant Olivia Everett, November, 2004.  Todd Ellison, Certified Archivist, Center of Southwest Studies, arranged and described the materials and produced produced this guide to the collections in January of 1993 (last revised October 2007).

Subject terms:
Dams--Colorado--Vallecito--Pictorial works
Water diversion--Colorado--La Plata County--Pine River
Water districts--Colorado--La Plata County
Water-supply, Rural--Colorado--Pine River Valley--History
Valleys--Colorado--Pine River
Cities and towns--Colorado--Vallecito

Related collections:

Collection U 013: Oral history interviews of the Center of Southwest Studies Vallecito Dam Oral History Project. To listen online to a 77-minute oral history interview with Jessie Wommer. May 31, 1993 that forms part of this collection, go to http://swcenter.fortlewis.edu/MP3/FLCu013326.sideA.mp3 and  http://swcenter.fortlewis.edu/MP3/FLCu013326.sideB.mp3

Collection D 003:  Vallecito Dam construction photos, 1938-1940.  Black and white images (with typed captions) depicting the work of Major C. A. Burns (grandfather of the owner of this album, Dr. William R. Burns), construction engineer with the Army Corps of Engineers, in the construction of the Vallecito Dam, 1938-1940.  Digitized by Center archival staff from the original photo album that Dr. Burns loaned to the Center of Southwest Studies via Bayfield Public Library through the agency of the Center's volunteer Jan Lips for that purpose (
accession 2005:09015).  Of particular interest among these 425 historic images are the following panoramic photos of the Vallecito region before the flooding of the valley: D003001, D003006 through D003013, D003096, D003097, D003102, D003103, and D003390.  These images are also useful as visual documentation of the Pine River Valley landscape before the flooding of the Vallecito Weminuche area and as a pictorial representation of construction equipment in use in the mid-twentieth century.

Series descriptions

Collection I 052: Pine River Irrigation District records on microfilm

Roll 1:

Record Group 1        General - Public information

        Series 1.1        Brochures and circulars, ca. 1947-1980s

        Series 1.2        General reports, press releases, and correspondence, 1935-1983

        Series 1.3        Newspaper clippings, 1930-1984

        Series 1.4        Vallecito Dam dedication printed materials, 1941

        Series 1.5        Vallecito Reservoir recreation printed materials, 1941-1986


Record Group 2        Board of Directors and members meetings

        Series 2.1        Minutes, 1950 Aug. 28, 1960-1971, and 1984-1989 Jan.


Record Group 3        Water rights adjudication

        Series 3.1        Priorities of water rights for irrigation in Water District No. 31 of Colorado: Pine River and its tributaries: 1934 decree of adjudication

        Series 3.2        Proposed Pine River Irrigation District landowners' petition/ certificate of ownership/ schedule of lands, ca. 1937

        Series 3.3        Priorities of water rights in Water District No. 46 of Colorado: San Brito Arroya and other arroyos draining into the San Juan River below the junction of the San Juan River and the Rio Piedra River and the Los Pinos River: 1965 decree of adjudication, and order May 14, 1968

        Series 3.4        Priorities of water rights for irrigation in Water District No. 31 of Colorado: Pine River and its tributaries: 1966 decree of adjudication

Begin Roll 2:

        Series 3.5        Referee's rulings, judgments, and decrees, with annual schedules and indexes of decrees, 1970-1979, 1983

        Series 3.6        Water rights, acquisition, disposition, and defense of transfer of water rights between tracts, including decreed rights acquired with right of way purchases, 1950, 1970-1979

        Series 3.7        Southern Ute Indians water rights, 1868-1979

        Series 3.8        U.S. Forest Service water rights, Vallecito Reservoir area, ca. 1976-1977

        Series 3.9        Water Division No. 7 of Colorado water applications, 1972-1985 May

        Series 3.10       Ditch user lists, ditch numbers 1-43, undated


Record Group 4        Meteorology, climate, and hydrology

        Series 4.1        Vallecito Dam, meteorological and climatic data, 1939-1974, 1981

        Series 4.2        Granite Peaks/ Pine River Drainage Basin snow surveys, 1940-1974

        Series 4.3        Colorado River Basin snow surveys, 1936-1960

        Series 4.4        Pine River Project hydrology data, 1939-1952

        Series 4.5        Pine River Irrigation District water storage, distribution, and use data, 1969-1987

Begin Roll 3: (continues the contents of Series 4.5)

        Series 4.6        Vallecito Dam piezometer instructions, 1940, and readings, 1985


Record Group 5        Vallecito Dam and Reservoir construction

        Series 5.1        Invitations for bids, schedules, specifications and drawings, 1938-1940

        Series 5.2        Test pits geologic data, ca. 1936

        Series 5.3        Plans/blueprints/drawings, 1938-1941

        Series 5.4        North End boat dock area soil and moisture conservation work records, FY 1984


Record Group 6        Vallecito Reservoir recreation

        Series 6.1        Recreational use reports, 1958-1969

        Series 6.2        Boating regulations, 1941-1972

        Series 6.3        Boat use rate schedules, 1946-1963

        Series 6.4        Boat permits, 1941-1981


Record Group 7        Emerald Lake

        Series 7.1        Water rights litigation, 1934-1984

        Series 7.2        Special use application, 1977-1981


Container list

Roll 1: Series 1.1 through 3.4
Roll 2: Series 3.5 through 4.5
Roll 3: Series 4.5 (continued) through 7.2

Printed materials: (collection M 103)

Boxes 1-9: dam construction reports (includes original photoprints).

Box 10: Dam construction drawings (photocopies the Center made from original PRID blueprints).


 ©2003 by Fort Lewis College Foundation, Center of Southwest Studies account (revised 2007)

Doing your own research: This description of a portion of the collections at the Fort Lewis College Center of Southwest Studies is provided to inform interested parties about the nature and depth of the repository's collections.  It cannot serve as a substitute for a visit to the repository for those with substantial research interests in the collections.

This collection is located at the Center of Southwest Studies on the campus of Fort Lewis College.  Researchers wanting more information about using this material at the Delaney Southwest Research Library at the Center may email the archivist at archives@fortlewis.edu or click here to use our E-mail Reference Request Form (or phone the archivist at 970/247-7126).  The Center does not have a budget for outgoing long-distance phone calls to answer reference requests, so please email if you wish to receive a response from the Center.  To request reproductions/copies, click here for instructions.


Page last modified: February 11, 2008