Historical Engineering: Hanging Flume

Posted on May 12, 2009  Comments (6)

Hanging flumephoto of hanging flume overlook in Colorado, by John Hunter, Creative Commons Attribution.


While driving from Dinosaur National Monument to Mesa Verde National Park last year I passed the sight above with the remnants of a hanging flume. The Montrose Placer Mining Company built a 13 mile canal and flume to deliver water from the San Miguel River for gold mining operations. The last 5 miles of the flume clung to the wall of the canyon itself, running along the cliff face in the photo above (see more photos).

Constructed between 1888 and 1891, the 4 foot deep 5 foot 4 inch wide hanging flume carried 23,640,000 gallons of water in a 24 hour period. The mining operations used water and sluice boxes to separate the gold from lighter materials (dirt and gravel).

The technology was not yet available to pump the water directly from the river at the necessary volume and pressure to wash the gold from the gravel, therefore they constructed the flume to transport the water.

Related: Mount Saint Helens Photosphotos of Manhattan (Rockefeller Center, Empire State Building…)C&O Towpath – Monocacy Aqueduct to Calico Rocks

Lake in ColoradoPhoto of a lake in Colorado by John Hunter, Creative Commons Attribution.

See more photos from the drive.

6 Responses to “Historical Engineering: Hanging Flume”

  1. Tera
    May 13th, 2009 @ 2:18 am

    I really can’t imagine that this is only 4’0″ deep and 5’4″ wide… but I admit, this so beautiful! Nice shot! Thanks for sharing!

    p.s. There are lot of places I have never been through before and no idea either! I only see it here! I hope you’d still continue to share us your adventure and provide us more beautiful places and trivia! More power!

  2. Gus
    May 14th, 2009 @ 9:40 am

    What an extraordinary sight. It is unbelieveable that it is impossible to make a hanging flume like this. I looked at all the pictures and I were stunned by the beauty.

  3. Lorenz
    May 15th, 2009 @ 6:57 am

    Wow…beautiful pic….Nice shot.

  4. Ray Allen
    May 28th, 2009 @ 9:31 pm

    Can you tell me with specificity, exactly, the location…mile markers, off what highway, etc…..? My wife had a great grandfather, who worked in gold mines (near that area), back at the turn of the century, but was never able to locate exactly where they were. Your description sounds very close to where she thinks he may have worked and actually died there, in an earthquake.

    you can email me if you like …sorry for the long comment

  5. rex
    October 12th, 2009 @ 12:13 pm

    John, I can’e see a 4′ x 5’4″ (wide) flume aywhere. Was is carved out of or hanging from the canyon wall? Perhaps possible to sketch it onto the photo and include the places it was (or is and I can’t recognize.


  6. curiouscat
    October 14th, 2009 @ 8:22 am

    Follow the link that says see more photos to see photos looking more closely at the flume. It was hanging from the canyon wall.

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