Records of the North Poudre Irrigation Company
Scope and Contents
The Records of the North Poudre Irrigation Company consists of documents dated 1880 to 2009, with the bulk falling from 1901 to 2005. The company's activities and system are documented through a variety of material types including annual reports, stock certificates, financial records, legal documents, and engineering reports. Voluminous correspondence documents daily operations until the 1970s, but only the first decade of board meetings are documented through minutes. The company also documented facilities and their maintenance and rehabilitation well through maps and plans, as well as with photography starting in the 1970s, along with few but significant images from the earliest years. Other organizations documented include two which merged with NPIC, the Mountain Supply Ditch Company and the Box Elder Ditch and Reservoir Company, as well as groups in which NPIC participated, such as the Cache la Poudre Water Users Association, the Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District, and the Four States Irrigation Council. Beyond irrigation, water management, and engineering, other subjects covered in the collection include land planning, oil and gas extraction, and environmental and community issues in the Cache la Poudre Basin.
- Creation: 1880-2009
- Creation: Majority of material found within 1901-2005
- North Poudre Irrigation Company (Organization)
Restrictions on Access
The following materials are open only to NPIC and its representatives: those dated post-2004; those subject to attorney-client or other privilege; payroll records, tax records, and records containing social security numbers or tax identification numbers; and materials containing construction plans, engineering work, and related supporting documents in connection with ditch, reservoir, and dam facilities. Third parties wanting access to these materials may seek written authorization from NPIC. Additionally, the 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.
Since 1901, the North Poudre Irrigation Company (NPIC) has supplied water to Northern Colorado's Boxelder Creek Valley farmers and ranchers through its system of canals and reservoirs. Today, the company owns nineteen reservoirs and approximately 200 miles of ditches and laterals. Reflecting broader trends in Colorado history, the system provides an increasing portion of its water to municipal users.
In the 1870s, Larimer County residents recognized that an irrigation canal could divert from the North Fork Cache la Poudre River to enable cultivation of the lands north of Fort Collins. Local business owners incorporated a series of irrigation companies that formed and failed in quick succession: North Fork Irrigation Canal Company (1878), the North Poudre, Box Elder, and Lone Tree Canal Company (1879), and the North Poudre Land, Canal and Reservoir Company (1880).
The North Poudre Land, Canal and Reservoir Company used money from eastern investment companies to fund construction of the North Fork Canal (later renamed the North Poudre Canal), but in 1886 Traveler's Insurance Company foreclosed on the ditch and 16,000 acres of company land used to secure the loans. F.C. Grable purchased the renamed North Poudre Land and Canal Company in 1896 but was unable to make the enterprise profitable.
Northern Colorado investors bought the partially-constructed system in 1901 and incorporated the North Poudre Irrigation Company. The company located its offices in Greeley and increased the number of available capital stock shares, using the funds to complete the North Poudre Canal and construct several large reservoirs: Fossil Creek, Halligan, and Reservoir No. 15. NPIC also acquired higher priority diversion rights by strategically selling Douglas Reservoir to the Poudre Valley Reservoir Company and purchasing stock in the Larimer No. 2 Ditch, New Mercer Canal, and Box Elder Ditch and Reservoir Company. These improvements and the water exchanges they enabled spurred farmers to purchase company-owned land and brought about the founding of Wellington, Colorado, in 1903.
In 1912, investors again reorganized the company, which had moved its offices to Fort Collins six years earlier. They increased the number of capital stock shares to 10,000 and reincorporated NPIC as a mutual ditch company. That same year, NPIC merged with the Mountain Supply Ditch Company, originally incorporated in 1905. NPIC then took over the Box Elder Ditch and Reservoir Company in 1916, thus increasing its system substantially in a small number of years.
By the 1930s and 1940s, NPIC worried less about financial viability and more about how to maintain and expand its aging system. During this time, the company was able to rehabilitate some of its facilities with help from the Civilian Conservation Corps. Following approval of the Colorado-Big Thompson Project in 1937, NPIC became the largest holder of C-BT units (40,000 units), which were delivered from the Cache la Poudre River to the NPIC system through the newly-constructed North Poudre Supply Canal (also called the Munroe Gravity Canal).
As the twentieth century progressed, NPIC sought additional control of the water in its system. In 1964, the company moved its offices closer to its shareholders and system assets by relocating to Wellington. In 1970, NPIC upgraded Halligan Dam and constructed a project first discussed in 1905, Park Creek Reservoir, which held water from the North Fork Poudre River. After decades of dealing with destructive flash floods, NPIC partnered with the Soil Conservation Service for the Boxelder Creek Watershed Project. From 1977 to 1982, five flood control dams were built on Boxelder Creek. In 1978, NPIC voted to rehabilitate its entire system of canals and reservoirs, a project the company pursued through the 1980s.
Beginning in the 1970s, NPIC faced increasing pressure from urban development as Northern Colorado's population grew. Subdivisions sprang up along the edges of NPIC reservoirs and laterals. Towns looking to secure water for an increasing number of people began to acquire NPIC shares. Wellington negotiated use of Reservoir No. 3. In 1972, NPIC traded Joe Wright Reservoir and Michigan Ditch to the City of Fort Collins for improved water rights, and in 2004 Fort Collins purchased Halligan Reservoir, though NPIC retained its senior storage right. The transfer of water from agriculture to urban purposes accelerated quickly. Today, NPIC remains committed to its agricultural stockholders, but municipalities use approximately 75 percent of NPIC water.
88 linear feet (51 record cartons, 1 document box, 6 flat boxes, 6 flat files, 2 tubes, 10 bound volumes)
Language of Materials
Since 1901, the North Poudre Irrigation Company (NPIC) has supplied water to Northern Colorado's Boxelder Creek Valley farmers and ranchers through its system of canals and reservoirs. Today, the company owns nineteen reservoirs and approximately 200 miles of ditches and laterals. The company's activities and system are documented through a variety of material types including annual reports, stock certificates, financial records, legal documents, engineering reports, correspondence, meeting minutes, photographs, and maps. Other organizations documented include two which merged with NPIC, the Mountain Supply Ditch Company and the Box Elder Ditch and Reservoir Company, as well as groups in which NPIC participated, such as the Cache la Poudre Water Users Association, the Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District, and the Four States Irrigation Council. Beyond irrigation, water management, and engineering, other subjects covered in the collection include land planning, oil and gas extraction, and environmental and community issues in the Cache la Poudre Basin. A portion of the collection is digitized and online.
NPIC worked with records management consultants to organize files in the 1980s, but any order imposed at that time was not necessarily carried forward. Some categories originally defined were retained, others were merged.
The collection consists of 11 series in 58 boxes, 6 flat files, 2 tubes, and 10 bound volumes:
Series 1: Annual reports, 1909-2005
Series 2: Minutes and board records, 1901-1909, 1950-2003 and undated
Series 3: Stocks, 1901-1998
Series 4: Water records, 1909, 1926-2009 and undated
Series 5: Financial records, 1898-2002 and undated
Subseries 5.1: General records, 1898-2002 and undated
Subseries 5.2: North Poudre Oil and Gas Royalty Units Trust, 1901-1981
Series 6: Legal records, 1882-2005 and undated
Subseries 6.1: General files, 1884-2005 and undated
Subseries 6.2: Specific files, 1882-2005 and undated
Series 7: Engineering and facility records, 1899-2009 and undated
Subseries 7.1: Field books, 1901-1947
Subseries 7.2: Files, 1899-2009 and undated
Subseries 7.3: Planning, 1972-2009 and undated
Series 8: General records, 1902-2009 and undated
Subseries 8.1: Correspondence, 1902-2001
Subseries 8.2: Files, 1930-2009 and undated
Subseries 8.3: Reports, 1927-1928, 1964-2003 and undated
Series 9: Organizations, 1880-2005 and undated
Series 10: Visual materials, 1905-2005 and undated
Subseries 10.1: Scrapbooks, 1905-1989 and undated
Subseries 10.2: Photographs, 1909, 1913, 1953-2005 and undated
Subseries 10.3: Digital media, 2001
Series 11: Oversize, 1903-2009 and undated
Subseries 11.1: Maps and plans, 1903-2009 and undated
Subseries 11.2: Aerial photographs, 1963-1969
The Records of the North Poudre Irrigation Company was donated to the Water Resources Archive by the company in August 2015. A small accession was added in October 2016 (2016068). A box of files primarily related to Halligan Dam originally given to the City of Fort Collins was donated in March 2017 (2017029).
Materials left with the donor include any items still actively used, documents dated 2010 or after, and any so damaged by water or mold that they were unrecoverable.
Some documents in this collection have been digitized and are available through the Colorado State University Libraries website. In the electronic version of this document, direct links appear in context.
Because the NPIC system is a conglomerate of several older systems, many reservoirs have more than one name or have been renamed. Often, reservoirs have both a name and a number; in some instances a reservoir has a number from both Mountain Supply Ditch Company and NPIC. NPIC's main ditch, the North Poudre Canal, is usually referred to as the Main Canal. Below is a list giving structure number, name, previous/other name, location, and notes:
Boxelder Reservoir No. 1 = Boxelder Lake No. 1, Section 36, T10N, R69W and Section 31, T10N, R68W
Boxelder Reservoir No. 2 = Boxelder Lake No. 2, Section 36, T10N, R69W; Section 31, T10N, R68W; Section 1, T9N, R69W; Section 6, T9N, R68W
Boxelder Reservoir No. 3 = Smith Lake = Boxelder Lake No. 3, Section 20, T9N, R68W
Caverly Reservoir, Section 14, T9N, R69W
Fossil Creek Reservoir, Sections 9-10, 15-17, T6N, R68W
Mountain Supply Reservoir No. 6 = Spitzer Lake, Sections 14, 15, T9N, R69W
Mountain Supply Reservoir No. 7 = Bubbles Lake, Section 7, T9N, R68W
Mountain Supply Reservoir No. 8 = North Poudre Reservoir No. 8, Sections 25, 36, T9N, R69W
Mountain Supply Reservoir No. 10 = Railroad Reservoir No. 3, Section 13, T8N, R69W
Mountain Supply Reservoir No. 16 = Indian Creek Reservoir, Section 13, T9N, R68W
Mountain Supply Reservoir No. 18 = Hinkley/Hinckley Lake, Section 25, T8N, R68W
Mountain Supply Reservoir No. 19, Section 15, T9N, R69W
Mountain Supply Reservoir No. 20 = Joe Wright Reservoir, Sections 24, 25, T7N, R76W - No longer owned by NPIC
Mountain Supply Reservoir No. 22 = Wasson Reservoir, Sections 7 and 18, T9N, R68W
Mountain Supply Reservoir No. 24, Sections 25, 36, T9N, R69W
North Poudre Reservoir No. 1 = Miner's Lake, Section 21, T9N, R69W
North Poudre Reservoir No. 2 = Demmel Lake, Sections 19, 30 T9N R68W and Section 25, T9N, R69W
North Poudre Reservoir No. 3, Sections 18-19, T9N, R68W
North Poudre Reservoir No. 4, Section 29, T9N, R68W
North Poudre Reservoir No. 5 = Bee Lake, Sections 5, 6, T8N, R68W
North Poudre Reservoir No. 6, Sections 5-8, T8N, R68W, Section 1, T8N, R69W, and Section 31, T9N, R68W
North Poudre Reservoir No. 9 = Mountain Supply Reservoir No. 9 = Railroad Reservoir No. 2, Sections 11 and 12, T8N, R69W
North Poudre Reservoir No. 11 = Stuchell Reservoir, Section 7, T9N, R68W
North Poudre Reservoir No. 12 = Clark/Clarks Lake = Upper Coal Creek Reservoir, Sections 15, 22, 23, T9N, R68W - Combined with No. 13 to form Clark Lake
North Poudre Reservoir No. 13 = Clark/Clarks Lake = Lower Coal Creek Reservoir, Sections 15, 22, 23, T9N, R68W - Combined with No. 12 to form Clark Lake
North Poudre Reservoir No. 15, Section 33, T10N, R69W and Section 4, T9N, R69W
North Poudre Reservoir No. 16 = Halligan Reservoir, Sections 29, 32-34, T11N, R71W - Sold to Fort Collins in 2004, but NPIC still has storage rights.
North Poudre Reservoir No. 17 = Portner Reservoir, Sections 7, 12, T6N, R68W - No longer owned by NPIC
North Poudre Reservoir No. 60 - Never built
Park Creek Reservoir, Sections 7, 8, 17, 18, T10N, R69W
Processing was completed in February 2017. Materials were rehoused in acid-free boxes and folders. Some materials were cleaned for mold; one extremely moldy map was photographed and returned to the donor. Rubber bands, binder clips, paperclips, and rusty fasteners were removed, as were duplicates beyond two copies. Other materials not retained include tax documents, payroll information, rehabilitation project invoices, folders of insurance information, cancelled and unused checks, files on office equipment, photocopies of published sources, materials from organizations not directly related to NPIC, and a videotape reel of dam and/or outlet pipe inspections. Maps were flattened and housed in flat files or rolled onto tubes; some were encapsulated in mylar. One large map was cleaned and restored by a conservator. In the inventory below, number signs were replaced with the abbreviation "No." See the Appendix for a list of reservoir names and locations. The mold cleaning was completed in December 2017, and those materials were incorporated the same month. The 2016 and 2017 accessions were also incorporated in December 2017 as Box 58 and Box 57, respectively.
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.
Genre / Form
- Boxelder Valley (Wyo. and Colo.)
- Cache la Poudre River (Colo.)
- Fort Collins (Colo.)
- Larimer County (Colo.)
- Weld County (Colo.)
- Wellington (Colo.)
- Guide to the Records of the North Poudre Irrigation Company
- Edited Full Draft
- Prepared by Patricia J. Rettig, Steven Emmen, and Clarissa J. Trapp
- Copyright 2017
- Language of description
- Script of description
- Language of description note
- Finding aid written in English.
Part of the CSU Libraries Archives & Special Collections Repository
Fort Collins Colorado 80523-1019 USA