Letter to the editor: Thanks to the Dillon dam workers for settling Silverthorne | SummitDaily.com

Letter to the editor: Thanks to the Dillon dam workers for settling Silverthorne

Ralph Ragsdale

Much has been written about the Dillon Dam, its initial planning in the early 1900s, completion in 1963, all of the challenges faced during the design and construction years, how the water entering the reservoir is measured and the controlled release of the water from the dam, the magic of the glory hole and Roberts Tunnel to the South Platte River, and the installation of the hydroelectric equipment 24 years later. Not enough attention, in my view, has been paid to the construction workers and what they did when the project was over.

When the dam was completed, some of the workers made the makeshift construction camp their permanent homes. How’s that for confidence in their craftsmanship? They settled below the dam. Some people today are hesitant to do that. If the dam breaks, the land below the dam will wash away with devastating results. After all, it is an earthen dam with concrete only at the very base and some grout between rocks also at the base.

The confidence those construction workers had in their work reminds me of the aircraft mechanic who will fly in a plane whose engine he just overhauled. Or the doctor who will allow his ex-student to operate on his heart or brain. That’s the stuff of interesting scripts.

A friend of mine was a summer helper on the dam’s construction. He obviously knew some of the permanent workers. One of his jobs was to take samples of the soil being used to the lab for testing for moisture and density. Thanks to those workers who decided to stay put, we now have Silverthorne, the second largest town in population in the valley and incorporated, as well.

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

As a Summit Daily News reader, you make our work possible.

Summit Daily is embarking on a multiyear project to digitize its archives going back to 1989 and make them available to the public in partnership with the Colorado Historic Newspapers Collection. The full project is expected to cost about $165,000. All donations made in 2023 will go directly toward this project.

Every contribution, no matter the size, will make a difference.