When completed in 1888 to a height of 90 feet, Sweetwater Dam was once the tallest masonry arch dam in the United States, and it led to many others of the same basic design. The original construction began in November 1886 under the direction of Frank E. Brown (civil engineer for Bear Valley Dam) with the rubble-masonry thin-arch design being 50 feet in height. Subsequently, the owner of the water system called upon civil engineer James D. Schuyler to continue and complete the project. Although the field of hydrology was very new and not fully understood at the time, Mr.
The Cheesman Dam was the first major dam in the U.S. to incorporate the gravity arch, and upon completion it was the highest gravity arch stone masonry dam in the world. It is the key structure in Denver's water supply.
Three years into original construction, flooding swept away the partially completed rock-filled structure. A solid masonry replacement dam was completed in just five years - a major feat for such a remote and complex project. When it was finished, the dam rose higher than the tallest building in Denver.