A rockslide that occurred earlier this week on Tuesday, March 16th caused significant damage to the town's hydropower plant as well as a bridge that gained pedestrians access to the popular ice climbs.

The incident is believed to have taken place either Monday night or early Tuesday morning, when a rock the size of a pool table fell down into the canyon, damaging the canyon itself as well as completely taking out the metal walkway that allowed access to the ice climbs. In addition, the penstock that ferries water to the hydropower plant, which is the oldest still in operation in the country, was taken out as well.

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Ouray resident Eric Jacobson, who owns the hydropower plant and pipeline, described the discovery of the damage as such:

Just water squirting everywhere and the access bridge, laying at the bottom of the canyon. This is probably the worst spot for replacing pipe in the gorge and certainly the biggest rockfall we’ve had.

Jacobson has been leasing the property that includes the ice walk and the hydroelectric plant since 1992, which amounts to roughly 60 acres.

Luckily, because the incident occurred at night when the park was vacant, no one was injured as a result of the rockslide.

The ice park is a very popular destination for ice climbing enthusiasts and attracts around 15,000 visitors every year to the small town of Ouray. In addition, the Ouray Hydroelectric Power Plant that was damaged typically produces around 4 million kilowatt-hours per year. The park opened back in December of 2020 and was set to close for the season on Sunday, March 21st.

[The Journal]

Ride along the Silverton Durango Railroad