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Papers of W. D. Farr

Identifier: WWDF

Scope and Contents

The Papers of W. D. Farr consists of documents dated 1890 to 2010, with the bulk falling from 1980 to 2005. Materials document little of Farr's professional life but more of his service activities and personal life. Farr's speeches and correspondence along with articles about him give substantial biographical information; other such information is found among the personal files. Little information exists on Farr's cattle-feeding and ranching work or his involvement in the banking industry except in the files on organizations he served in or belonged to. Overall, the collection documents more of Farr's last thirty years than his first sixty. Beyond Mr. Farr and his family, the collection also provides useful documentation on Greeley and northern Colorado water issues. Along with paper-based files, the collection contains photographs, CDs, DVDs, and artifacts.


  • Creation: 1890-2010
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1980-2005


Restrictions on Access

There are no access restrictions on this collection. However, some items are 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.


William Daven "W.D." Farr was a water leader, cattleman, and businessman in northern Colorado. He served on Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District's board and the Greeley Water and Sewer Board for forty years and was extensively involved in other local and national water and agricultural organizations.

Farr was born in Greeley in 1910, the first child of Harry and Hazel Farr. He learned irrigated farming as a boy by assisting his father and early on developed an enthusiasm for hunting and fishing. He spent two high school summers working cattle on a ranch west of Steamboat Springs, Colorado, which greatly influenced his later career.

After high school, Farr left Colorado to attend the University of Wisconsin but returned during his second semester due to a severe sinus infection. This brought him back to irrigated farming as well as his father's lamb-feeding business. W.D. became engaged in finding solutions to various water problems and also helping with the lambs. After discussions with Warren Monfort, a prominent Greeley cattleman, new cattle-feeding techniques caught Farr's interest. He began trying these out in 1930 and quickly made a profit.

The severe drought of the early 1930s motivated Farr to work for a new reliable water supply for northern Colorado. Farr's work alongside his father and many others turned into the Colorado-Big Thompson transmountain diversion project. Farr was appointed to the board of the project's overseers, the Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District (NCWCD), in 1955, and he served for more than forty years. He was also appointed chairman of the Municipal Subdistrict of the NCWCD, which built the Windy Gap project after a decade of negotiations, led by Farr.

With his increasing experience and interest in water issues, Farr was appointed to the Greeley Water Board in 1958 and served for 39 years. His local involvement in water and national involvement in cattle organizations, including the American National Cattlemen's Association among many others, contributed to being appointed by President Richard Nixon to the Water Pollution Control Advisory Board in 1970. Farr's extensive professional service continued throughout the next two decades and into the 1990s, including a term as the first chairman of the Colorado Water Resources and Power Development Authority, an organization created in 1981. Personal interests included the Boy Scouts of America, Rotary, the Congregational Church, and the Greeley Independence Stampede.

Farr received many awards and honors in his life, from a number of organizations. He was named Aspinall Leader of the Year by the Colorado Water Congress in 1985, inducted into the Colorado Agriculture Hall of Fame in 1995, and named the 1999 Citizen of the West. He received the honor of having the NCWCD pump plant at Lake Granby named for him in 1994.

W.D. married Gladell Judy (who dropped her first name and went by "Judy") in 1933. They had four sons: John Daven, William Robert ("Bill"), Harry Richard ("Dick"), and Randal James ("Randy"). Judy passed away in 1997, and W.D. followed in 2007. For additional information on Farr's life and family, see Daniel Tyler, WD Farr: Cowboy in the Boardroom (U. of Oklahoma Press, 2011).


13 linear feet (20 document boxes, 3 flat boxes, 1 flat file, 1 oversized item)

Language of Materials



William Daven "W.D." Farr (1910-2007) was a water leader, cattleman, and businessman in northern Colorado. He was extensively involved in many local and national water and agricultural organizations, including the Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District, the Greeley Water and Sewer Board, and the American National Cattlemen's Association. Materials document little of Farr's professional life but more of his service activities and personal life. Beyond Farr and his family, the collection also provides useful documentation on Greeley and northern Colorado water issues. Along with speeches, correspondence, clippings, and subject files, the collection contains photographs, CDs, DVDs, and artifacts. A portion of the collection is digitized and online.


Files in the collection were substantially rearranged in order to create the following series.

The collection consists of nine series in 23 boxes, 1 flat file, and 1 oversized item:

Series 1: Speeches, 1951-2000 and undated

Series 2: Organizations, 1951-2004 and undated

Series 3: Correspondence, 1942-2005 and undated

Series 4: Personal files, 1916-1927, 1943-2008 and undated

Series 5: Subject files, 1908, 1920, 1948-2005 and undated

Series 6: Clippings and research, 1949-2010 and undated

Series 7: Awards and honors, 1988-2004

Series 8: Photographs and media, c. 1890-2010

Series 9: Artifacts, 1947, 1972-2007 and undated

Custodial History

Prior to his death, W. D. Farr loaned the materials in this collection to Daniel Tyler for the purposes of writing a biography. When Dr. Tyler completed the biography in 2010, he returned the boxes to son William R. Farr, who removed some personal folders from the collection before donating the materials to the Water Resources Archive.


The Papers of W. D. Farr was donated to the Water Resources Archive by son William R. Farr in January 2011.

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.

Related Collections

Series 1 of the Papers of Daniel Tyler in the Water Resources Archive contains research materials for Tyler's biography of Mr. Farr. The Farr family also donated various artifacts to the Greeley Museum, which also has an oral history interview conducted by Peggy Ford with W. D. Farr in 2004.


Processing was completed in August 2011. All materials were rehoused using acid-free folders and boxes. Some folders had numbers that appeared to be part of a file numbering system, but these were not transferred to folders as they were inconsistently applied. Metal fasteners were removed as necessary, and photographs were sleeved. A few framed items were removed from their frames. Social Security numbers of still-living people were redacted. A few publications, personal files, and files concerning award nominees were removed from the collection and returned to the family. Confidential documents (typically due to attorney/client privilege) were returned to the originating agency, with the exception of one given clearance by Northern Water.

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 Papers of W. D. Farr
Edited Full Draft
Prepared by Patricia J. Rettig
Copyright 2011
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