The year was 1886. Walter Devereux, a wealthy silver mining venture capitalist from Aspen, turned his vision downvalley to Glenwood Springs to develop the next world
class resort. The area's climate, rich land, rivers and free flowing hot springs made it a natural fit for his ideas. He began by purchasing the hot springs and 10 adjacent acres to provide the water to generate the electricity needed for the growth of the town. In late 1886, Devereux started the Glenwood Light and Water Company.
The company's first task was to build a water supply for the new town. They constructed a flume to carry water from No Name Creek through Glenwood Canyon to the outskirts of the town. Remnants of this wooden aqueduct can still be seen high on the north canyon wall just east of Glenwood Springs.
In other parts of the United States, the newly invented Edison-based electrical systems were gaining in popularity. Noting electricity's potential for his hot springs development as well as for the young town, Devereux's second project was to build a small coal fired steam-operated electrical generation plant just west of the hot springs. Using coal from nearby mines hot steam ran through turbines that generated electricity, lighting the town.
Springs became one of the first towns in Colorado to have electricity, completely bypassing the gas-light era. It also became one of the first towns in
the United States to have electric street lights. The power plant enabled the Hotel Colorado to open for business in 1893 with electric lighting.
Over the next two years, Walter Devereux continued to invest in the future of Glenwood Springs by expanding the light and water systems and developing the hot springs into the world class resort it is today.
Supplying the Water
The delivery of water to the Hydroelectric Plant began at Grizzly Creek. The water was diverted through a tunnel to No Name Creek and then taken through another tunnel to a wooden flume which is shown in the photo to the upper left. From the flume, it traveled to the Hydroelectric Plant.
When the water arrived at the Hydroelectric Plant, it was used in several ways. It created electricity and also provided drinking water for the City of Glenwood Springs. Excess water was diverted back into the Colorado River through a pipe called a "tail race."