Lake Loveland, Loveland, CO

History of Lake Loveland

Over the years, Lake Loveland has evolved from a muddy marsh, to a resource for irrigated agriculture, to a public water supply and a scenic and recreational treasure.

Completed in the fall of 1894 and filled for the first time with the spring runoff of 1895, Loveland was said to be the "most complete reservoir system in Colorado".

Hemingway pictures at Horton Bay General Store

In early years, the primary purpose of the lake was irrigation for farming, but the majority of the lake is now owned by the City of Greeley who uses it for a domestic water source.

A century ago, the lake basin was half a mile away from Loveland's town center, but now the city of Loveland has grown around it. It is bordered by over one hundred homes, a four-lane highway and city parks.

The lake is fed by ditch waters diverted from the Big Thompson river. When full, Lake Loveland fills a basin of 475 acres with a deep-water depth mark of 39.45 feet.

The idea for building Lake Loveland took root when a group of English investors showed interest in the area. The Barnes Ditch, which had been dug about 26 years earlier, was acquired and a massive upgrade began on it to develop the ditch as the primary feeder for the lake.

It was widened, deepened and fenced along its sides over its three-mile course from the Big Thompson River to the lake. Head gates were placed at strategic locations along the ditch and at the lake to help control water flows. Rocks dug up were used for the man-made dam on the south shore of the reservoir.

Among the larger engineering challenges was the work done on the lake's outlet. A brick-lined tunnel was built feeding water to the Lake and Greeley Canal almost a mile south of the lake.

Underground water tables were tapped and before the digging could continue, huge jet pumps were used to remove the water. The brick-lined tunnel remains today, but was updated with a new liner in the early 1990's.

Today, the lake functions as a primary water supply for the city of Greeley. The recreation rights belong to the homeowners whose properties surround the lake. Public fishing is available from the public shorelines and swimming is available at the swimming beach at North Shore Park.

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