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Let me introduce you to our latest permanent time-lapse cameras located in the high country of the South Platte River Basin, 50 miles southeast of downtown Denver. These two cameras are capturing change over time at the Cheesman reservoir and spillway. Cheesman Dam became the world’s tallest dam at 221 feet when construction finished in 1905. In 1918 the Denver Water Board purchased the reservoir and its facilities. The South Platte River, dammed behind the reservoir, flows down Cheesman Mountain and supplies 80,000 acre-feet (or 26 billion gallons) of water to 1.3 million people in the city of Denver and many surrounding suburbs. With Denver’s population expected to double within the next 50 years and weather patterns becoming increasingly extreme and unpredictable, it will be interesting to watch the reservoir over time.

This past summer, I accompanied PBT leaders Mike Forsberg, Mike Farrell, and Jeff Dale to install the two new cameras. This was my first time witnessing the process and let me tell you, a lot more goes into it than simply sticking a camera in the ground and turning it on.

Members of the Platte Basin Timelapse team do hours of research to decide where the camera should go, why, and what it will reveal. Once a location is determined then the property owners of the desired location must be contacted, and this could take days, weeks or months to reach and establish a relationship with the property owners. If the property owners give us the green light to install, then we start planning a trip to the location.

Coordination schedules, booking hotels, driving 8+ hours, and gathering equipment are just some of the elements that go into installation trips. Once we arrive at the location, there’s a lot of digging, nailing, hammering, and sweating that goes into building the base structure of the camera. Next, Jeff Dale, our camera engineer, uses a solar panel and handmade technology to take over the brains of the cameras and set them to take one picture per hour of daylight. Lastly, we take the time to find and line up the perfect frame for the camera.

Watch what it takes to install these cameras and see the payoff from all of our hard work.


Cheesman Spillway:

(Video by Mariah Lundgren)

Cheesman Reservoir:

(Video by Mariah Lundgren)
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