B is for Brainard Lake, Colorado (near Ward)
Constructed in 1895 by Colonel Wesley Brainerd (Brainard)* of the Utica Mining, Milling, and Reservoir Company, Brainard Lake was created to provide hydroelectric power to the mines of Ward and Lefthand Canyon. It soon became a scenic destination for locals. After the establishment of the Forest Service in 1905, management of the area changed. The 1915 Term Occupancy Act permitted summer home construction on National Forest lands for up to 30-year terms. In the 1920s, nine summer houses were built around Brainard Lake, the Denver Boy’s Club built Camp Audubon, and the Colorado Mountain Club (CMC) built the Brainard Cabin.
With the public demand rising for more active outdoor recreation opportunities, the National Park Services initiated a 10-year plan in 1956, called “Mission 66,” to renovate the Parks. In response, the National Forest Service initiated its own “Operation Outdoors” a year later. The Brainard Lake Development plan was significantly changed as part of this initiative. While the campground and picnic areas were improved, it was decided that the day-use of the area outweighed the private permitted use. As a result, the residence permits were allowed to expire by 1970. Most of the structures were moved to Ward, but the chimneys still stand. The Brainard Cabin (CMC) was allowed to remain as it provides service to the public.
In summer visitors (via a timed-entry pass system) to the Brainard Lake area can enjoy hiking, backpacking, picnicking, horseback riding, boating, camping, fishing, and in winter snowshoeing and cross-country skiing.
*The Genealogy of the Brainerd-Brainard Family in America, 1649-1908 used both spellings of the last name as they were used by different lines of the family.
G is for Gross Reservoir
Gross Reservoir is located southwest of Boulder in Boulder County, Colorado and serves as a combination storage and regulating facility for water that flows under the Continental Divide through the Moffatt Tunnel. Built in the 1950s, it stands 340 feet above the South Boulder Creek streambed and was completed in 1954. Owned by Denver Water, Gross Reservoir is named for Denver Water former Chief Engineer Dwight D. Gross.
With 10.9 miles of shoreline, Gross Reservoir contains 627,559 cubic yards of concrete and a water volume of 41,811-acre-feet. The reservoir has fishing, canoeing, kayaking, standup paddling, bouldering, non-motorized boating, primitive camping, marked campsites, hiking and picnic areas. Gross reservoir is open year-round, but swimming, wading, and diving are always prohibited.
A proposed expansion that would raise the level of the dam by 131 feet and allow Denver Water to store 77,000 additional acre-feet of water was approved and will begin in April of 2022. This expansion will make it the second largest in Denver Water’s system, and when complete, Gross Reservoir will be able to hold 119,000 acre-feet of water, second only to Dillon Reservoir in Summit County (257,000 acre-feet). This expansion will also improve water reliability for more than 1.5 million people and beyond. During the project, public access may be affected in several areas.