Digging the Old West: How Dams and Ditches Constructed an American Landscape

By Karmen Lee Franklin

Now available from Amazon

CoverAn intricate network of waterworks stretches across the landscape, powering cities and irrigating oases. These systems, hidden in plain sight, provide water for agriculture, drinking, recreation, power generation, snow-making, and wildlife refuges. Dams and ditches are like a forgotten branch of our family. We know they are related to us; we wouldn't be here without them. Yet, we don’t really know the story of how they got here. 

Open Digging the Old West and discover the roots of our hydrological heritage. Learn the history of our ancestral water use, from ancient canals to skyscraper gardens. Focused on a small region of Colorado’s Front Range, this book outlines the development of a semi-arid landscape into an irrigated metropolis. Like a family scrapbook, it is overflowing with photos, doodles, charts, maps, and stories of triumph and disaster.  

Praise for Digging the Old West

“It is one of the few works that attempts fully to explain Colorado’s water history. It is unusually well-written, with vivid descriptions of people, processes, events, and landscape features.”

- Mark Fiege, author of Irrigated Eden

“This is a story that needs to be told and needs to be better understood by more Colorado citizens.”

- Patricia J. Rettig, Head Archivist, Colorado State University, Water Resources Archives  

“I got involved in the Ditch Project because it became obvious how important water is in the West. I am so pleased that Karmen has turned the information we compiled for the project into this wonderful book!”

- Elizabeth Black, Boulder Artist and Tree Farmer 

Purchase Digging the Old West now at Amazon.

About Karmen Lee Franklin



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