Brooks-Dixon Waterwheel

Also known as: The Colorado Waterwheel Restoration Foundation,Ltd.
SE of McCoy at Colorado River, McCoy, Colorado


From Amtrak California Zephyr

Photo taken by Steve Conro in October 2019




The Brooks-Dixson water wheel was initially constructed in 1923 by the two entrepreneurial ranchers, Earl Brooks and Wyman Dixson, as they needed water to irrigate their pasture ó water, hay and cattle are the focal cornerstone elements for a successful livelihood in ranching. The water wheel was designed, created and made to work with no prior experience nor plans other than the rancherís imagination and ingenuity. The engineering feat was a significant one. Their work showcased confidence and a frontier can-do attitude.

The purpose of the wheel was to raise water from the Colorado River bed to the top of the wheel in constructed wooden containers as the wheel rotated on its axle, the diameter of the wheel being approximately 48 feet. As the wheel reached its zenith, the water was released and flowed into a catching wooden flume. By gravity and piping system, the water then flowed into the irrigation ditches below, the pastures being approximately 40 feet higher than the river bed. This ingenious device was perhaps the largest one in the state of Colorado and certainly in Eagle County. This wheel irrigated the pastures for decades, and eventually, electrical water pumps made the water wheel obsolete, and it fell into neglect and disuse, as did the property.

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National Register information 

Posted to the National Register of Historic Places on April 11, 1977
Reference number
NR name
Areas of significance
Engineering; Agriculture
Level of significance
Evaluation criteria
A - Event
Property type
Historic function
Period of significance
Significant year

Update Log 

  • October 19, 2019: New photo from Steve Conro