Originally located where the historic Nevada Ditch enters the Columbine Country Club, this headgate was installed in the 1950's. Made out of iron, the adjustable device consists of a hand-turned control wheel which raises or lowers the gate to control and divert the flow of water within the ditch. The gate is set within a frame that would have fit snugly into the ditch. Headgates were originally made from wood and iron, but these were eventually replaced with more sturdy iron and/or concrete gates like this artifact. Similar headgates are still used today.
Ditches are some of the oldest extant settlement structures, and the expansive and sophisticated ditch system found across the state has maintained agriculture in Colorado for hundreds of years. Irrigation ditches provide about 90% of the water for agriculture along the Front Range. These ditches continue to allow water to reach ranches and farms across the Denver metropolitan area, thereby directly supporting local agriculture. Irrigation ditches allow for agricultural productivity that would not be as sustainable as using pipes or potable sources like wells.
The Nevada Ditch is one of the four remaining early active ditches in the Littleton area. Construction on the Nevada Ditch began on August 30, 1861, and is located on the west side of the South Platte River. This ditch was designed to carry twelve million gallons of water daily, through Littleton, into the Denver area. Irrigation ditches like the Nevada Ditch specifically influenced the development of the South Platte River Valley, especially the Littleton area. This headgate is the only piece of ditch equipment in the Littleton Museum's Collection.
6028 S Gallup St
Littleton, CO 80120