The 119-year-old Charlie Tayler Waterwheel in Idaho Springs is getting a much-needed upgrade to help the landmark last another hundred years.
“We’re going to be changing out some spokes that are starting to get rotten and cracked,” said Scott Wallace, owner of Wallace Landscaping, the contractor tasked with the repair work. “Then we have to change out the spokes on the opposite side; otherwise, (the wheel) would be out of balance. Then we’re going to stain the whole thing, which it really desperately needs.”
The restoration project is a joint effort between the city of Idaho Springs, which owns the wheel, and the Historical Society of Idaho Springs.
“It will be running (again), it will be repaired, waterproofed and everything,” historical society board member Bob Bowland said. “If you look at the wheel now, you can see how discolored it is. It is very, very dried out and splitting. A lot of the buckets are leaking water apparently.”
The historical society is paying the bulk of the $6,000 cost of the restoration, which will be done in June, and the work is expected to be complicated.
“The hardest part is there is no access,” Wallace said. “There’s no trail that goes over there. We’re going to end up running a cable across … the creek and then send all our material and everything across on pulleys — like a zip-line.”
The water wheel was built in 1893 south of Idaho Springs at Ute Creek. Tayler’s water wheel powered a mining stamp mill, and when he died in 1939, the wheel was donated to Idaho Springs. In 1946, it was put in its current location along Interstate 70. A group of local volunteers restored and refurbished it in 1988.