Colorado once had more than 20 sugar beet factories, supporting tens of thousands of farmers, field hands, and factory workers from the early to mid-1900s. The Great Western Sugar Company (GWSC) operated the factory in Fort Collins, which was located on the site of the current City of Fort Collins Streets Department (625 Ninth Street). Waste effluent from the process was deposited in successive nearby settling ponds and eventually the company ran out of property under their ownership on the north side of the Poudre River.
In 1926, a GWSC engineer designed a suspension bridge that supported a metal flume to carry slurry of mostly lime, beet pulp, and water across the river for deposition on company land. The flume was operational until the mid-1950s when the plant closed. All of the settling ponds were detrimental to the environment-both the land and the river. While most of the factory complex was demolished in the 1960s, the bridge and flume survived to present day because of their location along the river that did not receive high development pressure.
In 2004, the Natural Areas Department purchased the last parcel of land that contained the bridge and incorporated it into Kingfisher Point Natural Area. The bridge is a rare example of suspension engineering in Colorado and the flume and bridge together are surviving examples of a historic industrial effluent disposal system, and were placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2014.
Check out this video from the City of Fort Collins about the Flume!
Open 5:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. (trail hours)
Not accessible – view from trail.
A Natural Areas interpretive sign is viewable from the trail.
By car, take Lemay Avenue north of Riverside and turn right onto Hoffman Mill Road. Follow the road to the Nix Farm Natural Areas Facility. Then walk the Poudre Trail in a generally north east direction from here to get to the site. Site is located in the Kingfisher Point Natural Area.