Strictly speaking there were scores of mines in the Silverton-Durango area but for this purpose I think they can be treated as one. plus the fact I don't know their names anyway. One of the major problems they had was power generation.
But a civil engineer from Tennessee had a very clever idea for supplying power to mines in Silverton. H.T. Henderson envisioned converting water to power using gravity, as the Ames plant in Ophir had done in 1891. Believing this could be accomplished locally, he incorporated the Animas Canal, Reservoir, Water, Power and Investment Company in 1902, capitalized at three million dollars.
His plan was ambitious: to divert water from Cascade Creek 32 miles north of Durango in a wooden box flume measuring six feet by eight feet for a distance of three and a half miles, emptying the water into a small natural lake. Build a dam at this point, direct outflow for two more miles into a flume 1500 feet long to the north end of a large storage reservoir (which would become Electra Lake), with a terminal dam. From here the water would drop 1,000 feet via a pressure pipe or penstock to the power plant, and finally be discharged into the Animas River.
In the spring of 1903 construction began and so did the difficulties. Timber for the large Cascade flume was located north and east of the site. A small sawmill was relocated from Bayfield to receive the logs from a skidway one and a half miles long.
Getting supplies to the site was the hardest part of the job. Roads were mere clearings, and mule-drawn wagons were the only transport. Weather was a constant issue. One source described conditions as "nine months winter, three months late in the fall." Rain fell steadily for 60 days. Workers wore double oilskin coats to defend against the elements.
Financial ruin stalked everyone involved. Workers were going unpaid, and a four-day standoff ensued. Men brandishing six-shooters held their ground until wages were paid.
The smaller flume was constructed in 1905, in an even more inaccessible location that required supply wagons to be "snubbed to trees and lowered by block and tackle.
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