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In part the piece read for a couple of years after

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Unformatted text preview: ear by Boulder Daily Camera in 1894, which, in praising a property purchased by Captain Jack on Left Hand creek that same year, pointed to the fact that the, "property consists of 16 claims, all in a group nicely located, … and touching a fine stream of water."30 A June 1880 edition of the Boulder News and Courier went further in delineating the importance of water in any mining enterprise while describing a stamping mill located in Golden, "… the water power affords [the mine operator] an advantage – in a dull time he can start up on a moment's notice and give immediate returns on a grist of ore, no matter how small, without waiting for quantities that justify getting up steam for a forty horse power engine."31 10 With the technological importance of water power established, it comes as no surprise then that the most influential institutional framework in Colorado and the whole of the West was the collection of laws regarding the allocation of water resources. Controlling water, while certainly instrumental in agriculture, was absolutely essential in mining. After all, water falling from the sky can, even in small amounts, nourish crops; but without a large, controlled, readily available supply of water, a mining operation simply cannot function. Thus, diverting, damming, draining or otherwise dominating water was an absolutely essential component of Westward development. As the Boulder Daily Camera pointed out in 1891, "one of the most important factors in producing a permanent prosperity and no evanescent boom, is our superb water power."32 It is somewhat strange then that until the United States Congress passed the General Mining Act of 1872, all miners on federal lands were technically trespassing.33 As such, under the system of riparian water rights which prevailed in the East – where the right to use water was held only by those landowners whose land abutted it – no miner had any legal right to water (nor the ore he was extracting, for that matter). However, this was ignored in practice by the Western territories, many codifying in their territorial and later state governments the system of prior appropriation both in land and in water resources.34 Indeed, prior appropriation as applied to water law, sometimes called the Colorado Doctrine, came into being largely modeled after the "first in time, first...
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