Historic Great Western Sugar Company Effluent Flume and Bridge Receives National Recognition
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On November 19th, the National Park Service listed the Great Western Sugar Company Effluent Flume and Bridge in the National Register of Historic Places. The structure spans the Cache la Poudre River on Kingfisher Point Natural Area. Ron Sladek, President of Tatanka Historical Associates, Inc. wrote the nomination for the City of Fort Collins Natural Areas Department, stating that “The bridge is a rare example of suspension engineering in Colorado and the flume and bridge together are surviving examples of a historic industrial effluent disposal system.”
The National Register of Historic Places is the official federal list of districts, sites, buildings, structures, and objects significant in American history, architecture, archaeology, engineering, and culture. These contribute to an understanding of the historical and cultural foundations of the nation. Authorized under the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, the National Register is part of a national program to coordinate and support public and private efforts to identify, evaluate, and protect our historic and archeological resources. The National Park Service provides overall program administration. The Office of Archaeology and Historic Preservation (OAHP) in History Colorado, the Colorado Historical Society, administers the register in Colorado. In Colorado there are over 1,300 properties listed in the National Register. In Fort Collins, 24 other individual properties and two districts are listed in the National Register.
Colorado once had more than 20 beet sugar factories, supporting tens of thousands of farmers, field hands, and factory workers from the early to mid-1900s. The Great Western Sugar Company (GWSC) operated the factory in Fort Collins, which was located on the site of the current City of Fort Collins Streets Department (625 Ninth Street). Waste effluent from the process was deposited in successive nearby settling ponds and eventually the company ran out of property under their ownership on the north side of the Poudre River. In 1926, a GWSC engineer designed a suspension bridge that supported a metal flume to carry slurry of mostly lime, beet pulp, and water across the river for deposition on company land. The flume was operational until the mid-1950s when the plant closed. While most of the factory complex was demolished in the 1960s, the bridge and flume survived to present day because of their location along the river that did not receive high development pressure. In 2004, the Natural Areas Department purchased the last parcel of land that contained the bridge and incorporated it into Kingfisher Point Natural Area.
The historic Great Western Sugar Company Flume and Bridge are very visible from the Poudre Trail, south side of the river mid-way between Lemay Avenue and Timberline Road. The City of Fort Collins Natural Areas Department is planning on installing an interpretive sign near the flume in 2015. Coined the “New Brooklyn Bridge” when first constructed, the GWSC bridge is one of only a handful of historic suspension bridges that remain in Colorado today.
For more information, contact Karen Manci, Senior Environmental Planner, City of Fort Collins Natural Areas (970-221-6310; PGFjbGFzcz0=">a21hbmNpQGZjZ292LmNvbQ==) or Karen McWilliams, Historic Preservation Planner, City of Fort Collins Community Development and Neighborhood Services (970-224-6078; a21jd2lsbGlhbXNAZmNnb3YuY29t).