View of the CO River and overpass

By Julie McCluskie and Russell George

At the narrowest point in Glenwood Canyon, where steep cliffs compress the Colorado River, the Union Pacific Railroad, and all four lanes of Interstate 70 into an area no more than 50 yards across, a small brown building houses the historic Shoshone Hydropower Plant. For more than a century, the turbines inside that building have spun Colorado River water into electricity for local communities. It may not look like much on the outside, but like so many places in our beautiful state, there is far more than meets the eye.

Today, the Shoshone Hydropower Plant still produces energy for Colorado’s electric grid, but its true importance is on the river. The senior water rights tied to Shoshone’s power production hold the key to a more secure water future not only for the Western Slope, but for the entire state of Colorado.