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Blue River Basin Collection

Identifier: WBRB

Scope and Contents

The Blue River Basin Collection consists of photographs dated from 1991 to 2003 and maps dated 1885 to 1971, with the bulk of the materials being photographs falling from 1991 to 1998. Some photographs have accompanying negatives. The 500+ photographs show the river and tributaries, reservoirs and tarns, headgates, flumes, spillways, dams, high-water events, snow, and surrounding mountains. Geographic locations within Colorado Water District 36 include the Blue River and sub-basins, Dillon Reservoir, Green Mountain Reservoir, and the counties of Grand, Summit, and Lake. The oversize materials are primarily U.S. Geological Survey and U.S. Forest Service maps along with some early township maps by the Surveyor General's Office. The maps focus on District 36 and neighboring areas but also include other places on Colorado's West Slope. Many of the maps are annotated. Also included is a set of data sheets listing diversions in Water District 36.


  • 1885-1971 and 1991-2003
  • Majority of material found within 1991 - 1998


Restrictions on Access

There are no access restrictions on this collection.

Restrictions on Use

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


The headwaters of Colorado's Blue River primarily originate from the Tenmile (or Ten Mile) and Gore ranges in the Rocky Mountains. From below the Fremont, Hoosier, Loveland, and Vail passes, the Blue River runs 65 miles north with inflows from 63 sub-basins to its confluence with the Colorado River near the town of Kremmling. The basin is divided into the Upper Basin, which covers the headwaters to Dillon Reservoir, and the Lower Basin, which continues down through Green Mountain Reservoir to the Colorado River. The system is largely fed by snowmelt. The big snow years of 1995-1997 produced a high amount of runoff, documented by photographs in this collection.

Agriculture (ranches), domestic, municipal, and storage are the primary uses for Blue River water, along with hydroelectric power. Transmountain diversion projects, for both Denver and Colorado Springs, direct a substantial part of the river's flow into the South Platte River and Arkansas River for use along the Front Range.

In 1990, the Colorado Division of Water Resources created the first full-time water commissioner position for Water District 36 to administer water rights, diversions, and use in the Blue River Basin. Scott Hummer, the donor of the collection, was the first to hold this position from 1990-2011 and took hundreds of photographs at sites across the basin. Prior to Hummer, water commissioners for the basin were part-time.

Over the decades, the river system has become more complex with growing demands from Colorado's increasing population. This included the construction of Dillon Reservoir in the early 1960s and the addition of water rights for instream flows in 1979. Hummer also faced challenges from the drought of 2002. The basin's high mountain position and connections to both the Colorado River and the Front Range make it one of the most complex and contentious basins in the state.


1+ linear feet (2 flat boxes and 1 flat file)

Language of Materials



This collection visually documents Colorado Water District 36, emphasizing the Blue River, which flows 65 miles from the Tenmile and Gore mountain ranges into the Colorado River. The collection includes photographs of the river and tributaries, reservoirs and tarns, headgates, diversion systems, high-water events, snow, and surrounding mountains. Also included are a set of topographic maps and a set of data sheets. Geographic locations covered include the Blue River and sub-basins, Dillon Reservoir, Green Mountain Reservoir, and the counties of Grand, Summit, and Lake.


Photographs arrived in no particular order and were arranged geographically from the Blue River's headwaters to its outlet at the Colorado River. Folders were created based on tributaries, reservoirs, and townships. Photographs with no identified location are at the end.

The collection consists of 1 series in 2 flat boxes and 1 flat file:

Series 1: Blue River Basin, 1885-1971 and 1991-2003


The Blue River Basin Collection was donated to the Water Resources Archive by Scott Hummer in January 2020.

Related Collections

Related collections include the Ival V. Goslin Water Resources Collection which includes feasibility studies on the Blue River, the Papers of Charles C. Fisk which includes a chapter on "The Blue River Water War" from his book The Metro Denver Water Story, and the Photographs of Bill Green which includes photographs of the Dillon and Green Mountain reservoirs.


Processing was completed in March 2023. The collection arrived in no particular order and was arranged to be in three categories of photographs with the binder of maps at the end. Photographic materials, including negative strips, were sleeved and rehoused in archival photo boxes. Based on the condition of any original labelling, these were either transcribed or photocopied and included with their accompanying materials. Unidentified negatives and duplicate prints in excess of two were removed. Other duplicates were sleeved together.

Inventory Note

Note: Title information supplied by the collection donor is in quotation marks.

Guide to the Blue River Basin Collection
Prepared by Cameron M. Kacsh and Patricia J. Rettig
Copyright 2023
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the CSU Libraries Archives & Special Collections Repository

Fort Collins Colorado 80523-1019 USA