Burton Davis Sanborn was a long-time resident of Greeley, Colorado, who was very active in irrigation in Larimer County. Born on November 1, 1859, in Vermont, Sanborn came to Colorado as a child in 1870 with the original settlers of the Union Colony, and later in life served as secretary of the colony.

Sanborn is best known for his involvement with the North Poudre Irrigation Company. Sanborn purchased the North Poudre Land, Canal and Reservoir Company, along with the North Fork Irrigation Company and the North Poudre, Box Elder and Lone Tree Canal Company in 1901 for $67,000. Along with other local investors, he reorganized and incorporated as the North Poudre Irrigation Company and embarked on a lengthy project to complete the North Fork Ditch, also known as the North Poudre Canal, as well as construct a full system of ditches and many large reservoirs to irrigate the lands north of Fort Collins. Sanborn served as president of the North Poudre Irrigation Company from 1901 to 1905, and remained a long-term stockholder in the company. Sanborn was responsible for making the North Poudre Irrigation Company one of the largest ditch companies in Larimer County. His innovative use of water exchanges through NPIC reservoirs in exchange for other companies’ direct flow river water allow not only the company to prosper, but the entire irrigation system of Larimer County to work efficiently with sufficient water supply.

Burton was responsible for planning and construction of Fossil Creek Reservoir in the NPIC system. He also built Boyd Lake Reservoir through organization of the Boyd Lake Reservoir and Irrigation Company with a capital stock of $400,000. Boyd Lake at the time of its construction was the largest reservoir in Larimer County and crucial to late season irrigation.

Along with F. O. Stanley, Sanborn purchased the Dunraven ranch in Estes Park and formed a development company. Stanley built the beautiful hotel that bears his name, and also constructed a road from Lyons to Estes. Sanborn’s other investment projects included his role as senior partner in Sanborn & Houston, a real estate, loan, and insurance firm.



-Ansel Watrous. History of Larimer County Colorado. The Old Army Press, 1911. pp. 397.

-Hilfinger, Ann. Origins of the North Poudre Irrigation Company. 1993, 16pp. WNPI (North Poudre Irrigation Company Collection), Box 1 Folder 2, Water Resources Archive, Colorado State University Archives and Special Collections, pp. 4-6.