In 1901 Abraham Lincoln Fellows and William W. Torrence made the first successful expedition through the Black Canyon of the Gunnison. Their purpose was to locate a site for a tunnel to divert water from the river to irrigate the lands of the neighboring Uncompahgre Valley. A journey the year before, with the same purpose in mind, ended in near disaster when the five men abandoned their effort and scrambled to the rim. Though many had looked to the canyon as a source for irrigation water, it was the arduous and successful trip made by Fellows and Torrence that moved the effort from merely an ambition to reality.
Abraham Lincoln Fellows
Southern Colorado was still the wild west when Lincoln Fellows arrived in 1887. Christened Abraham Lincoln Fellows, in the rarely used Episcopalian baptism of the dead, Lincoln was given the holy designation as an infant in the wake of grief that followed the assassination of the 16th president. Born in Kennebunk, Maine he attended several New England schools before entering Yale University. He graduated in 1886. He was teaching at a New York prep school the next year when Bryant Turner, a Cortez, Colorado promoter hired him to work for the Montezuma Valley Irrigation Company.