The SOUTH PLATTE RIVER is one of the two principal tributaries of the
Platte River . Flowing through the U.S. states of
Nebraska , it is itself a major river of the American Midwest and the
American Southwest /Mountain West . Its drainage basin includes much
of the eastern flank of the
Rocky Mountains in Colorado; much of the
populated region known as the
Colorado Front Range and Eastern Plains
; and a portion of southeastern
Wyoming in the vicinity of the city of
Cheyenne . It joins the
North Platte River in western
Nebraska to form
the Platte, which then flows across
Nebraska to the Missouri . The
river serves as the principal source of water for eastern Colorado. In
its valley along the foothills in Colorado, it has permitted
agriculture in an area of the
Colorado Piedmont and
Great Plains that
is otherwise arid.
* 1 Description
* 2 History
* 3 Dams
Fly fishing overview
* 5 Recreation
* 6 See also
* 7 References
* 8 External links
The river is formed in Park County,
Colorado , southwest of
the South Park grassland basin by the confluence of the South Fork and
Middle Fork , approximately 15 miles (24 km) southeast of Fairplay .
Both forks rise along the eastern flank of the
Mosquito Range , on the
western side of South Park, which is drained by the tributaries at the
headwaters of the river. From South Park, it passes through 50 miles
(80 km) of the
Platte Canyon and its lower section, Waterton Canyon.
Here, it is joined by the North Fork before emerging from the
foothills southwest of the
Denver suburb of Littleton . At Littleton,
the river is impounded to form
Chatfield Reservoir , a major source of
drinking water for the
Denver Metropolitan Area .
The river flows north through central Denver, which was founded along
its banks at its confluence with Cherry Creek . The valley through
Denver is highly industrialized, serving generally as the route for
both the railroad lines, as well as
Interstate 25 . On the north side
Denver it is joined somewhat inconspicuously by Clear Creek , which
descends from the mountains to the west in a canyon that was the
cradle of the Pike\'s Peak Gold Rush . North of
Denver it flows
through the agricultural heartland of the Piedmont (a shale region
that was formed through erosion by the ancestor of the river following
the creation of the Rockies). It flows directly past the communities
of Brighton and Fort Lupton , and is joined in succession by Saint
Vrain Creek , the
Little Thompson River , the
Big Thompson River , and
Cache la Poudre River , which it receives just east of Greeley .
East of Greeley it turns eastward, flowing across the Colorado
Eastern Plains , past Fort Morgan and Brush , where it turns
northeastward. It continues past Sterling , and runs into Nebraska
Colorado and Big Springs,
Nebraska . In Nebraska,
it passes south of Ogallala and joins the
North Platte River near the
city of North Platte .
Platte River through
Denver is on the U.S. EPA's list of
impaired waterbodies for pathogen impairment, with E. coli as the
representative pathogen species. Other water issues involve the
appearance of the
New Zealand Mud Snail and of the
Zebra Mussel .
The South Platte was originally called Niinéniiniicíihéhe by the
native Arapaho people who lived on its banks. The early Spanish
explorers called it the Rio Chato (calm river). In 1702, it was named
the Rio Jesus Maria by Captain Jose Lopez, the Tewa Irish scout and
Captain of War of the New Mexico Indian Auxiliaries who was ordered by
the Viceroy of New Spain to search the Tierra Incognita for a French
incursion into New Mexico. The South
Platte River also served as a
vital water source in Colorado. Long before the city of
created many travelers came to the South
Platte River to escape the
arid Great Plains. These people could survive the heat but not without
the vital water source that the South
Platte River gave them. Buckets
and wells sufficed as a water system for a while but eventually the
Denver Water System was created.
In an arid region of the United States, the South Platte is marked
with several dams. The first notable water impoundment on the South
Antero Reservoir . "Antero" is derived from the Spanish word
"first," as it was the first dam on the South
Platte River near the
The next dam is Spinney Mountain Reservoir. At capacity Spinney
Mountain covers 2,500 acres (10 km2). A bottom release dam, Spinney
releases to the east of the inlet.
Two miles below Spinney Mountain Reservoir, the river enters Eleven
Mile Reservoir, with a capacity of 97,000 acre feet (120,000,000 m3).
The Eleven Mile Reservoir Dam drains into Eleven Mile Canyon, which
runs through Forest Service land. Under the reservoir are three former
Colorado towns, Howbert , Idlewild, and Freshwater Station, which were
submerged to meet the water needs of
Eleven Mile Canyon , the South Platte runs northeast to Cheesman
Reservoir, named for
Denver water pioneer Walter S. Cheesman. At its
completion in 1905, the dam was the world’s tallest, at 221 feet (67
m) above the streambed. The reservoir and related facilities were
purchased in November 1918 by the
Denver Water Board. Cheesman was the
first reservoir of Denver's mountain storage facilities and has been
designated a National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark. Cheesman
Reservoir feeds Cheesman Canyon. Six miles below Cheesman Reservoir is
the town of Deckers; there, the river bends north for approximately 17
miles (27 km) to the confluence with the North Fork of the South
In the late 1980s, a proposal was put forth for the Two Forks Dam,
which would have created a reservoir flooding the entire section from
the North Fork confluence to the town of Deckers. In 1990 the
Environmental Protection Agency
Environmental Protection Agency vetoed the permit, calling the project
an "environmental catastrophe."
From the confluence, the river flows towards
Denver and enters
Strontia Springs Reservoir.
Below Strontia Springs the South Platte runs through Waterton Canyon
before entering Chatfield Reservoir. Chatfield marks the seventh and
final dam on the South Platte until it merges with the North Platte.
FLY FISHING OVERVIEW
Platte River is a Gold Medal Western trout river on the
Eastern Slope of Colorado. The river is well known for its wild trophy
Brown Trout and
Rainbow Trout . As a result of the close
Denver , the river sees thousands of fly fishing
enthusiasts each year. With seven dams on the river, the South Platte
is considered a tailwater fishery. Most of these dams are bottom
released which allow for both stable water temperatures throughout the
year, and year round fly fishing. Popular fly fishing stretches of the
Waterton Canyon , Deckers , Cheesman Canyon and the
Dream Stream .
* List of rivers of
* List of rivers of
North Platte River
* ^ "South Platte River".
Geographic Names Information System
Geographic Names Information System .
United States Geological Survey
United States Geological Survey . Retrieved 2011-01-29.
* ^ U.S. Geological Survey. National Hydrography Dataset
high-resolution flowline data. The National Map, accessed March 25,
* ^ Water Data Report,
Colorado 2003, from Water Resources Data
Colorado Water Year 2003, USGS .
* ^ Nebraska: A Guide to the Cornhusker State.
Historical Society . p. 46.
Denver Water History. Accessed June 23, 2014.
* ^ Laura King Van Dusen, "Forty-Six Years in Howbert: 1887-1933:
Former Ranching, Railroading Community Covered by Eleven-Mile
Reservoir", Historic Tales from Park County: Parked in the Past
South Carolina : The History Press, 2013), ISBN
978-1-62619-161-7 , pp.