The Conejos Water Conservancy District (CWCD) was originally formed in 1941 in conjunction with the Bureau of Reclamation as the entity to facilitate the construction of Platoro Reservoir. Before the conservancy district’s formation, the Conejos Water Users Association was the purveying organization with regards to the use of the Conejos River’s water. Construction of Platoro Reservoir began in 1949 and was finished in 1951, ahead of schedule and under budget. The Conejos drainage system is an area rich with Colorado history. The CWCD has played and continues to play a critical role in the unfolding of that important history, and holds a wealth of important and valuable information both figuratively and literally in its vault.
The Conservancy District’s office is on Main Street of Manassa, Colorado, across from the historical home of the famous Jack Dempsey, the world heavyweight boxing champion from 1919 to 1926. At the back of the office sits a heavy vault door, which itself bears scars and stories. Dents in the metal are the marks of bullets fired at the vault. A line in the door’s hinge is evidence of an attempt to cut the hinge. All this gives the door character and history, making its viewers wonder at what the vault holds. But now the vault sits half-open and unlocked, and anyone who has a question for the Conservancy District’s manager Nathan Coombs will often be given an answer with a map or record pulled from that very vault. The CWCD works to maintain an air of openness and helpfulness, “There aren’t any big secrets”. The vault reflects the CWCD’s attitude towards those interested, if you have a question, come ask. In that spirit, the CWCD is also compiling as many of the records and resources housed in the vault as they possibly can. Feel free to look through the resources provided below, and welcome to the vault.