The Orr Ditch Inverted Siphon

OrrInlet

For many a moon I’ve attempted to write a bit more about the Orr Ditch siphon – I’ve always been able to find just enough to tantalize readers but not really make a worthwhile, definitive column about the late-1950s structure added to the grand lady of Reno’s irrigation ditches, the Orr.

            The Orr rolls along north of the Truckee’s stream and terminates finally in far Spanish Springs. In the days pre-University of Nevada (the University was established in Reno in 1887, after the Orr’s construction) the Orr crossed Virginia Street and then flowed across the campus, west-to-east, crossing a low point in the campus east of Virginia.1 A flume carried the water across that gully until Mother Earth again rose to meet the flume, and the ditch then flowed eastward, then, following the terrain, turned to the north and went well into the (non-existent) campus. Turning to the east, it then was routed south, forming a big “U” and finally turning to cross future Evans Avenue, just at the top of the hill east of the present Fleischmann Agriculture Building. Clear as Mud? Continue reading

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