The Palisade Historical Society announced today “The History of Irrigation in Palisade and East Orchard Mesa, Colorado,” a 32-page booklet of photos and information about the history of irrigation water in the Grand Valley, is now available from the Palisade Historical Society.  The booklet was created as part of the Palisade Historical Society’s celebration of the 100th birthday of the Grand River Diversion Dam, known as the “Roller Dam.” The official congressional dedication of the Dam was June 29, 1915.  LINK:

“Irrigation water is the lifeblood of the Grand Valley,” said Priscilla Walker, chairman of the Palisade Historical Society who also served as editor. “This booklet highlights the surprising history of irrigation projects, including many early projects which failed, ” Walker noted.

Though it began in 1897 and took nearly 20 years to complete,  the Grand Valley Project─ which became the Grand River Diversion Dam and Government Highline Canal─is the successful solution to making the Grand Valley into one of the most productive agricultural regions in Colorado and the Intermountain West. The Dam is located eight miles east of Palisade in DeBeque Canyon, and the Government Highline Canal stretches from Palisade to Loma, delivering irrigation water to the Price Ditch, Stub Ditch, and two canals on Orchard Mesa.

The Historical Society, in cooperation with Grand Valley Water Users Association which has operated the Diversion Dam since 1949, the Bureau of Reclamation, Palisade Irrigation District, Orchard Mesa Irrigation District, and Mesa County Irrigation District─as well as the Grand Valley Drainage District─are planning a fun and educational Centennial birthday event for the Roller Dam from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on June 27, 2015 at the Veteran’s Memorial Community Center in Palisade.

Contributors to the Irrigation History booklet include Paul H. Bardell, Jr., author of “Peaches and Politics in Palisade, Colorado,” and Jeffery M. Widener, professor at the University of Oklahoma whose dissertation is on land use in Western Colorado.

Additional information resources are government publications, including US Reclamation Service annual reports, the Bureau of Reclamations “Grand Valley Project” by Wm. Jo Simonds, and the four irrigation districts and the Drainage District participating in the Centennial celebration.

Many of the booklet’s photos are courtesy of the Grand Valley Water User’s Association, the Museum of Western Colorado, and Danny Williamson, whose grandfather worked to build the Grand Valley Project from 1912 to 1915. Photos from the original Orchard Mesa Irrigation District dam, canal, and pumping plant construction in 1909 and 1910 are courtesy of the Denver Public Library’s Western History Collection.

Additionally, Palisade Historical Society photos from the Peska Family Collection, Robin Turcotte, and Gary W. Hines─whose grandfather, Earl Carver, was the caretaker of the Roller Dam for one third of its nearly 100 years─make this booklet a unique resource of historically interesting photos and information.  Lisa Harmon is the graphic artist and Dean Rickman served as the printer broker. The booklet is available for a donation from the Palisade Historical Society and from area retailers.

The mission of the Palisade Historical Society is to collect, preserve, and communicate the unique history of Palisade, Colorado, and to foster, encourage, stimulate, and develop public appreciation of this history. It has been a non-profit organization since March 2010.

If you would like to volunteer, participate as a sponsor, or provide an information  booth for your organization at this historically important birthday party on June 27, 2015, please contact the Palisade Historical Society at (970) 464-2177.