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Papers of Robert and Daphne Illeman

Identifier: WIFP

Scope and Contents

The Papers of Robert and Daphne Illeman consists of documents dated 1938 to 1968, with the bulk falling from 1948 to 1950. There are few personal papers or details of the Illemans' specific work present. The collection consists primarily of materials related to what became the Fryingpan-Arkansas Project. These materials mostly refer to the "Gunnison-Arkansas Project," so called because the Bureau of Reclamation's initial plans for the project, developed in the 1940s, entailed moving water from the Gunnison River basin on Colorado's west slope to the Arkansas River basin on the east slope. After years of debate and compromise, a modified version of the project—in which water is diverted from the Fryingpan River basin to the Arkansas River basin—was authorized as the Fryingpan-Arkansas Project in 1962.

The bulk of the collection is two sets of Bureau of Reclamation reports produced for the Fryingpan-Arkansas Project: an Interim Report and Initial Development report, both with extensive appendices. Also included are pamphlets, newspaper clippings, and maps and charts related to the project, including maps of geologic features, existing and proposed facilities, and route location maps. Additional to these materials are other Bureau of Reclamation reports related to the Ingalls pumping project, the Arkansas Valley, and the Colorado River; a report from the National Resources Planning Board; Bureau of Reclamation newsletters; and drawings of the Eden Dam and Huerfano River Dam. Regions covered include Pueblo, Bent, Crowley, Kiowa, Otero, and Prowers counties and the Arkansas River Valley.


  • Creation: 1938-1968
  • Creation: Majority of material found in 1948-1950


Restrictions on Access

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

Restrictions on Use

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


Daphne Charlida Collins Illeman and Robert John Illeman worked as civil engineers for the United States Bureau of Reclamation in Pueblo, Colorado, from March 1946 to January 1952 on several projects, the largest of which became the Fryingpan-Arkansas Project.

Daphne Illeman was born Daphne Collins in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on June 23, 1921. She studied geology at the University of Tulsa, engineering at Iowa State University, and attended the University of Colorado at Boulder before receiving a bachelor's degree in mathematics from the University of Montana in 1941.

Robert Illeman was born in Boone, Iowa, on December 1, 1917. He attended Iowa State University, where he and Daphne met; the University of Montana; and the University of Colorado at Boulder. Daphne and Robert were married in 1940 in Missoula, Montana.

During World War II, Robert was assigned to the Third Army Headquarters under General George Patton as a topological draftsman making invasion maps as they crossed Europe from France to Germany. Daphne moved to New York City during this time and did geological research on radioactive ores and their global locations for the Manhattan Project.

After the war, the two reunited at Fort Logan in Denver, then settled in Pueblo and were hired by the Bureau of Reclamation to make preliminary surveys for the Fryingpan-Arkansas Project. The project was designed to bring water from the Fryingpan River on the western slope through a series of diversion tunnels under the Continental Divide to the eastern slope and the Arkansas River basin. Robert and Daphne worked with crews of up to 30 workers, camping in tents and using burros to carry supplies. They supervised running a triangulation network over the Continental Divide, tying in various drainages, tunnel entrances, and canals; running level circuit over the Divide and setting brass caps; locating and staking preliminary routes of canals and tunnels; running plane table topography along routes; locating and staking power drops and making topographic maps of fore bays, after bays, and penstocks; making contour maps of proposed reservoir and dam sites; making soundings of existing lakes and reservoirs; and making solar observations. Their work covered the Arkansas Basin from its headwaters to Great Bend, Kansas, with many surveys being 50 miles long over all types of high-country terrain.

After funding for the first iteration of the Fryingpan-Arkansas Project fell through in the 1950s, the Illemans moved to Bartlesville, Oklahoma, where Robert worked for Cities Service oil company. They also ventured into real estate and the cattle business. The Illemans eventually retired to Colorado.

The Illemans had three children: John, Janet, and Judy. Janet and Judy both received bachelor's degrees from Colorado State University. Robert passed away on August 31, 2003, and Daphne on September 19, 2016.

(The Illeman siblings contributed most of this biography.)


3+ linear feet (2 record cartons, 1 oversize folder, 1 tube)

Language of Materials



Daphne Illeman (1921-2016) and Robert Illeman (1917-2003), a married couple, worked as civil engineers for the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation on multiple projects, including what became the Fryingpan-Arkansas Project in Colorado. The collection includes two sets of reports produced by the Bureau for the Fryingpan-Arkansas Project, a transmountain diversion, along with other reports, maps, and drawings related to water resources development projects and research. The collection also includes newsletters, newspaper clippings, and pamphlets.


The materials did not arrive in a specific arrangement. They were rearranged and grouped by subject, with Fryingpan-Arkansas materials placed first; reports and materials for other projects second; and a folder of reference materials on report writing placed last. Reports which were part of a set were rearranged, where needed, into their correct order.

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

Series 1: Papers, 1938-1968 and undated


The Papers of Robert and Daphne Illeman was donated to the Water Resources Archive by the Roaring Fork Conservancy in July 2023. John Illeman donated the collection to the Roaring Fork Conservancy in March 2023.

Related Collections

Related collections in the Water Resources Archive include the Papers of James L. Ogilvie, who was the project manager for the Fryingpan-Arkansas Project.


Processing was completed in September 2023. The materials were reboxed in acid-free boxes, and large drawings were placed in a flat file and a tube. Some materials were removed from binders and most materials were placed in acid-free folders. Bound volumes were not foldered unless they had no information or title on their covers, in which case they were placed in labeled folders for clarity.

Inventory Note

Note: Title information supplied by the archivist is bracketed. Estimated pagination is preceded by an "e."

Guide to the Papers of Robert and Daphne Illeman
Prepared by Lauren Oliver
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