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Papers of Ray Nixon

Identifier: WNIX

Scope and Contents

The Papers of Ray Nixon consists of documents dated 1893 to 2001, with the bulk falling from 1948 to 1995. The collection is organized by his employment history and material type. The collection's subject focus is Nixon's work for city water utilities in southeastern Colorado, consulting work for other municipal organizations in the area, and service on the board of Southeastern Colorado Water Conservancy District (SECWCD). Most of these municipalities received water from SECWCD's Fryingpan-Arkansas transmountain diversion project (Fry-Ark), and as a result the documents and photographs Nixon generated while working for city utilities often relate to Fry-Ark. Also present in the collection are brochures, news clippings, photographs, and a sound recording related to the coal-fueled Ray D. Nixon Power Plant, which Colorado Springs named in his honor in 1980. The collection contains some of Nixon's personal papers, though most of the news clippings and awards are work-related. Several folders of letters, photographs, and brochures document a 1957 trip to Pearl Harbor as a guest of the Secretary of the Navy. Material types include reports, notes, correspondence and memoranda, maps, brochures, diaries, scrapbooks, photographs, a micro cassette, plaques, paintings, and other artifacts.


  • Creation: 1893-2001
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1948-1995


Restrictions on Access

There are no access restrictions on this collection. However, it 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.


Raymond David Nixon (1906-2001) was a public water and utilities administrator in Kansas and Colorado who was instrumental in developing a transmountain diversion water supply for the City of Colorado Springs. Nixon earned a degree in electrical engineering from Finlay Engineering College in Kansas City, Missouri, in 1926. He worked for the Coos Bay Lumber Company in Marshfield, Oregon, for two years before moving back to Herington, Kansas, where he was employed by several local electric companies. Nixon began his municipal career with the City of Herington, Kansas, from 1939 until 1949 as manager of utilities, and then for Trinidad, Colorado, as city manager and utility manager from 1949 to 1954. He started working for the City of Colorado Springs on July 16, 1954. His first position for the Colorado Springs Department of Utilities was assistant utilities manager, and he was promoted to utilities manager and then director of public utilities by April 1956. Nixon retired from that position in 1974. After his retirement, he consulted on water and electric projects in Colorado and Kansas.

Nixon was a registered professional engineer in the State of Colorado. His professional memberships included the Colorado River Water Users Association, the Southeastern Colorado Water Conservancy District (SECWCD), the Public Employees Retirement Association (PERA), the Fryingpan-Arkansas Project Commission (Fry-Ark), and the Colorado Association of Municipal Utilities, among others. He served on the boards of both PERA from 1957 through 1974 and SECWCD from 1973 through 1991, including terms as vice president (1977-1979) and president (1980-1991). He was given several awards throughout his career, including the 1965 "Silver Spur" from the Pikes Peak Range Riders, the 1966 "Top Ten Public Works Men of the Year" by the American Public Works Association and Kiwanis International, the 1973 "Executive of the Year" from the Pikes Peak Chapter of the National Secretaries Association, International, and the 1988 Aspinall Award from the Colorado Water Congress.

Nixon was born on October 26, 1906, in Belleville, Kansas, to George William Nixon and Mary Ann Dickerman. He married Josephine Schmitz (1914-1994) in 1939. They had two children, son David George Nixon (b. 1940) and daughter Mary Jo Nixon (1949-2012). His namesake, the Ray D. Nixon Power Plant located near Fountain, Colorado, began production for the City of Colorado Springs Utilities in 1980. Nixon passed away at the age of 95 on November 7, 2001, in Colorado Springs.


18.5 linear feet (8 document boxes, 5 record cartons, 6 flat boxes, 2 bags, 1 flat file)

Language of Materials



Civil engineer Ray Nixon (1906-2001) served as head of several municipal water utilities in southeastern Colorado. Best known as the longtime director of Colorado Springs Department of Utilities, he played an instrumental role in large water infrastructure projects in southern Colorado such as the Homestake Reservoir and the Fryingpan-Arkansas Project. The collection documents Nixon's work for the cities of Trinidad, Colorado Springs, and Security, his time on the board of the Southeastern Colorado Water Conservancy District, and some of the many awards he received from local, state, and national organizations. Materials include reports, notes, correspondence and memoranda, maps, brochures, diaries, scrapbooks, photographs and negatives, and artifacts. A portion of the collection is digitized and online.


The materials in the collection arrived in no particular order and were arranged into series by material type.

The collection consists of 5 series in 19 boxes, 2 flat folders, and 2 oversize bags:

Series 1: Professional papers, 1901-2001 and undated

Subseries 1.1: Colorado Springs Utilities, 1901-2001 and undated

Subseries 1.2: Southeastern Colorado Water Conservancy District, 1948-1995

Subseries 1.3: Consulting and other professional activities, 1949-1993

Series 2: Personal papers, 1927-2001 and undated

Series 3: Diaries and scrapbooks, 1954-1976

Subseries 3.1: Diaries, 1956-1976

Subseries 3.2: Scrapbooks, 1954-1973

Series 4: Visual and audio materials, 1893-1980 and undated

Subseries 4.1: Photographic materials, 1893-1980 and undated

Subseries 4.2: Audio, 1980

Series 5: Artifacts and oversize, 1946-2001 and undated


Andrea Nixon, granddaughter of Ray Nixon, donated the collection to the Water Resources Archive in 2013. She donated an additional item in 2022.

Online Materials

An audiotape has been digitized and is available through the Colorado State University Libraries website. In the electronic version of this document, a direct link appears in context.

Related Collections

The Water Resources Archive holds the Papers of James L. Ogilvie, who was the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation's Fryingpan-Arkansas project manager. Ogilvie materials do not overlap with those in Nixon's collection. The Archive also holds the Papers of Frank Milenski, who was active in the Southeastern Colorado Water Conservancy District (SECWCD) and Arkansas Valley water community during the same timespan as Nixon.


Processing was completed in August 2014. One box of blank day planners, textbooks, and engineering publications accessible elsewhere was removed. Materials were rehoused in acid-free folders and boxes. Papers were removed from envelopes and from binders. Documents were taken out of plastic sleeves when possible, and most newspaper clippings were relocated to acid-free folders. Some metal fasteners were removed, as were rubber bands. Several oversize maps and charts were unfolded or unrolled and placed in flat storage. Duplicates beyond two copies were removed and returned to the donor. Loose photographs, negatives, and one of the scrapbooks were sleeved and stored in archival boxes. When possible, photographs were removed from frames, sleeved, and placed in archival boxes. Artifacts were rehoused in archival boxes. Some plaques, framed photographs, and framed certificates were wrapped in inert foam for protection. Where necessary, archival batting and sheets of inert foam were inserted to protect the artifacts and oversize items. One item was added in December 2022.

Inventory Note

Note: Archivists supplied folder titles. 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. Authored articles, books and studies are listed in bibliographic form.

Guide to the Papers of Ray Nixon
Edited Full Draft
Prepared by Clarissa J. Trapp and Alan E. Barkley; revised by Patricia J. Rettig
Copyright 2022
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