A Ditch in Time: The City, the West and Water

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Overview


The history of water development . . . offers a particularly fine post for observing the astonishing and implausible workings of historical change and, in response, for cultivating an appropriate level of humility and modesty in our anticipations of our own unknowable future.

Tracing the origins and growth of the Denver Water Department, this study of water and its unique role and history in the West, as well as in the nation, raises questions about the complex relationship ...

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A Ditch in Time: The City, the West and Water

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Overview


The history of water development . . . offers a particularly fine post for observing the astonishing and implausible workings of historical change and, in response, for cultivating an appropriate level of humility and modesty in our anticipations of our own unknowable future.

Tracing the origins and growth of the Denver Water Department, this study of water and its unique role and history in the West, as well as in the nation, raises questions about the complex relationship among cities, suburbs, and rural areas, allowing us to consider this precious resource and its past, present, and future with both optimism and realism.

Patricia Nelson Limerick is the faculty director and board chair of the Center of the American West at the University of Colorado, where she is also a professor of history and environmental studies. She currently serves as the vice president for the teaching division of the American Historical Association. Her most widely read book, The Legacy of Conquest, is in its twenty-fifth year of publication.

Jason L. Hanson is a member of the research faculty at the Center of the American West at the University of Colorado at Boulder, where his work focuses on natural resource use and the environment. He lives in Denver.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"The first book in 25 years by MacArthur-winning historian Limerick is an entertaining history of the Denver Water Board. (Stealing, even stealing water, is always good copy.) Best of all, this deftly wrought history banishes our complacency about where water originates." —The Daily Beast

"Historian Patricia Nelson Limerick has done the impossible. She's made a history of the Denver Water Department interesting." —The Denver Post

"Limerick offers a thought-provoking look at the complex and, at times, surprising relationship between the development of western cities and water. The author is known for her ability to speak to both the academy and general audiences. For example, in her celebrated book The Legacy of Conquest she shook the academy with a reinterpretation of the history of the American West. She does not disappoint her readers in A Ditch in Time. Through the case of the development of Denver, Colorado waterworks, Limerick meticulously details the coevolution of hydrologic technology and urban planning. Those that follow her detailed history, from the early 19th century up to present times, are rewarded with a greater understanding of and appreciation for what she calls "envirotech" history. This book demonstrates her continued emphasis on "applying historical perspective to contemporary dilemmas and conflicts." Interesting photographs, useful maps, and 20-plus pages of notes support the text. Summing Up: Highly recommended." —CHOICE

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781555913663
  • Publisher: Fulcrum Publishing
  • Publication date: 7/24/2012
  • Pages: 352
  • Sales rank: 960,313
  • Product dimensions: 14.00 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author


Patricia Nelson Limerick is the faculty director and board chair of the Center of the American West at Colorado University, where she is also a professor of history and environmental studies. She has received a MacArthur Fellowship and a number of other awards and honors. She currently serves as the vice president for the Teaching Division of the American Historical Association. Her most widely read book, The Legacy of Conquest, is in its twenty-fifth year of publication.

Jason L. Hanson is a member of the research faculty at the Center of the American West at the University of Colorado at Boulder, where his work focuses on natural resource use and the environment. He lives in Denver.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments xiii

Foreword Justice Gregory J. Hobbs Jr. xxi

Introduction 1

Part 1

Chapter 1 Engineered Eden 17

Chapter 2 Go Take It from the Mountain 51

Part 2

Chapter 3 Water Development: "The Plot Thickens" 85

Chapter 4 Dealing in Diversions 101

Chapter 5 A Horrifying Jigsaw Puzzle: The Uncertain Course of the Rivers of Empire 131

Chapter 6 No Country for Old Habits: Foothills, Two Forks, and the Revision of the Future 165

Chapter 7 Chipping Away at Tradition: The Riddle of Change and Continuity at Denver Water 213

Conclusion Turning Hindsight into Foresight: Denver Water as a Parable 251

Afterword: Two Decades at a Western Water Utility: Some Reflections, Observations, and Occasional Insights by Chips Barry 277

Notes 287

Further Readings 311

Index 317

About the Author 327

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 11, 2013

    I Also Recommend:

    Excellent history of Denver Water. Easy to read, interesting tw

    Excellent history of Denver Water. Easy to read, interesting twists and turns on the old 'first in time, first in right' story, and the far-sightedness of the City of Denver in securing it's water rights as the city developed. I would consider this a must-read for anyone living in the Denver area who is interested in where their drinking (and sprinkler!) water comes from.

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