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Records of the Iliff and Platte Valley Ditch Company

Identifier: WIPV

Scope and Contents

The Records of the Iliff and Platte Valley Ditch Company consists of documents dated 1884-1997, with the bulk falling between 1884-1945 and 1987-1997. The materials include the financial and business documents of the ditch company which were maintained by a small, often part-time staff. Items include bound ledgers with founding documents such as articles of incorporation and by-laws, accounting information and meeting minutes, stock certificates, and bank account books. Company vouchers, receipts, cancelled checks and bank statements from the early twentieth century show expenses incurred by the company. Later files from the 1980s and 1990s contain accounting, stockholder, tax, and insurance information detailing the company's income and expenses as well as that of the Proctor Water Company, an irrigation company near the IPV ditch that owned stock in IPV and used the IPV Ditch to partially transport its water. A few miscellaneous, non-financial items from the first half of the twentieth century include Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District stock certificates from the 1930s, a certificate of authority issued by the Colorado Secretary of State, reports to the Secretary of State, miscellaneous correspondence, a certificate of re-incorporation, annual stockholder meeting announcements (some with attached annual income/expense reports), and Colorado Highway Department maps detailing construction near the IPV Ditch.


  • Creation: 1884-1997
  • Creation: Majority of material found in 1884-1945; 1987-1997


Restrictions on Access

There are no access restrictions on this collection. However, some items are stored off-site, so advance notice is recommended.

Restrictions on Use

Not all of the material in the collection is in the public domain. Researchers are responsible for addressing copyright issues.


The Iliff and Platte Valley Ditch Company (IPV) was one of many irrigation companies in northern Colorado that contributed to the region's agricultural success. IPV was incorporated in Logan County, Colorado, in May 1884 by W.H. Schenck, Ralph Schenck, James W. Powell, and William S. Jenkins. The ditch was given an appropriation date of October 1883 and priority number 13 in Water Division 1, District 4. Groups of investors and farmers in Colorado and other parts of the irrigated West built irrigation systems by pooling capital and labor. These mutual or cooperative irrigation companies, of which IPV was one, existed for the benefit of shareholders and not for profit. Such companies usually had minimal staff; annual assessments on stock funded salaries, supplies and maintenance.

The creation of irrigation companies such as Iliff and Platte Valley symbolized the transformation of Colorado's eastern plains from rangeland to cultivated farmland. John Wesley Iliff was the first large rancher in the South Platte valley in the 1860s and his success attracted others to the region. Soon cattle ranches spread up and down the plains, covering large portions of Wyoming, Nebraska, Colorado, Kansas and Texas. By the 1870s, however, homesteaders and farmers steadily encroached on the cattlemen's land. The Iliff and Platte Valley Ditch irrigated land that once belonged to John Wesley Iliff. Irrigation was necessary to cultivate certain crops in this arid region and settlers constructed numerous ditches in the late nineteenth century. Agriculture became the economic strength of the area. After the turn of the century, water-intensive sugar beet crops ensured the success of irrigation and ditch companies.

As the small towns of Colorado's eastern plains grew in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, a few individuals became involved in multiple businesses and partnerships. J.P. Dillon, J.W. Powell, H.B. Davis, F.H. Blair, and S.V. Cheairs are familiar names in Logan County history and were also shareholders and directors of the IPV Ditch Company. Additionally, these men were involved in real estate, farming, other irrigation ventures, stock raising, banking and local government. It was not unusual for business interests to overlap and this may be the reason for an informal affiliation between the Iliff and Platte Valley Ditch Company and another irrigation company in the vicinity, the Proctor Water Company.

The town of Proctor was established in 1908 by J.D. Blue, Jr., who operated a ranch in the vicinity. It is not clear if Blue established the Proctor Water Company and its ditch, the Powell Ditch. Both Blue and the Proctor Water Company purchased shares in IPV. In the 1980s and 1990s IPV staff managed some Proctor Water Company business and maintained Proctor files. Today, water from the South Platte River flows through the IPV Ditch before reaching Proctor's Powell Ditch and the two companies share a ditch rider. A partnership may have developed because of the proximity of the two company's ditches and the practicality of combining some operations. Longtime shareholders in both companies and descendants of original shareholders do not know the exact connection between the two companies.

Logan County agriculture flourished in the early twentieth century but was hard hit by drought in the 1930s. After this period, agriculture waned as did the population of Colorado's eastern plains. However, both the Iliff and Platte Valley Ditch Company and the Proctor Water Company still exist and deliver water to shareholders.


8.25 linear feet (17 document boxes, 2 flat files)

Language of Materials



The Records of the Iliff and Platte Valley Ditch Company contains the financial and business records of the company which was established in 1884 and irrigated land in Logan County, Colorado. IPV was typical of many irrigation companies in Colorado and the West in that a group of investors pooled their resources to form the company and raised revenue by selling shares of stock to irrigators. The collection includes several ledger books with articles of incorporation, meeting minutes, stockholder information, cancelled stock certificates, cancelled checks and payment information, tax and insurance records. A portion of the collection is digitized and online.


The materials in this collection were arranged in two series: financial information, divided into subseries based on material type, and non-financial information. All materials were maintained in chronological order as found or rearranged in chronological order.

The collection consists of 2 series in 17 boxes and 2 flat files.

Series 1: Financial information, 1884-1997

Subseries 1.1: Bound volumes, 1884-1945

Subseries 1.2: Early files, 1912-1947

Subseries 1.3: Later files, 1980-1983 and 1987-1997

Series 2: Miscellaneous business, 1887 and 1904-1945


The Records of the Iliff and Platte Valley Ditch Company was acquired by the Water Resources Archive in July 2003. The collection was donated by a former president and stockholder of the ditch company, Leo Stieb. Mr. Stieb also donated an additional map in 2005.

Online Materials

Some materials have been scanned and are available through the Colorado State University Libraries website. In the electronic version of this document, direct links appear in context.


The majority of metal fasteners were removed and replaced with plastic clips as needed. All rubber bands and self-stick notes were removed. Ripped or fragile items were placed in polyester sleeves. Folded materials were flattened and fragile bound volumes were placed in custom boxes. When Social Security Numbers were found on various papers they were blacked out, the pages were then photocopied and the originals destroyed. Acid-free paper was inserted between documents with newsprint and glue or tape that was discoloring nearby documents. Duplicates of material were not retained past the second copy. All materials were inserted in acid-free folders and reboxed. Materials were arranged chronologically as this generally reflected the order in which they were received; exceptions include Series 1, Subseries 2 voucher and returned checks, which were bound together by year but stacked in disorder in two boxes when received. These were rearranged chronologically. Original envelope or file folder titles were copied exactly onto new acid-free folders. Some oversized, folded items were flattened and placed in map folders for flat storage. Cancelled or "returned" checks were discarded as IPV vouchers--handwritten company receipts itemizing check details--and supplier receipts were more detailed. Checks were kept only as representative samples, if they had information that was not on the IPV voucher, or if no voucher existed. Copies of cancelled checks in later files were discarded because the information was duplicated on the carbon check copies in the paid bill files. Blank tax forms and tax form instructions were discarded. Future care may involve transcribing information from the most fragile bound items--names of shareholders, date and amount of stock purchased--for researchers to use rather than the original.

The map donated in 2005 was processed in 2006, which included flattening and removal of metal fasteners.

Inventory Note

Note: Title information supplied by the archivist is bracketed. Estimated pagination is preceded by an "e." Two identical copies of the same item are indicated by the phrase "2 copies" at the end of the entry, following the number of pages of each copy.

Guide to the Records of the Iliff and Platte Valley Ditch Company
Edited Full Draft
Prepared by Rose Laflin
Copyright 2006
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

Repository Details

Part of the CSU Libraries Archives & Special Collections Repository

Fort Collins Colorado 80523-1019 USA