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Frank L. Delaney papers

Identifier: COU:511

Scope and Contents

The Frank L. Delaney Papers consist of legal files, professional and personal correspondence, financial records, and extensive material on Colorado water resources. Covering the period from 1914-1978, the Papers encompass the long and distinguished career of an accomplished Colorado attorney.

The papers are separated into 8 separate sections: I. BUSINESS AND PERSONAL PAPERS comprises 143 boxes of Frank Delaney’s including Abner Manufacturing Company vs. Charles Hasselbush, Alex Arbaney, Protest to Application of Francis Valley for Water Rights through Prince and Bennett Counties, Picaence Creek Grazing Association, Maudie Otten vs. Standard Oil Company, and the Standard Shale Company vs. George L. Summers. II. WATER FILES includes 45 boxes of consisting of correspondences to and from members the Colorado River Water Conservation Board and the Colorado River Water District, materials compiled for use at conferences in Denver and Glenwood Springs (sponsored by Continuing Legal Education in Colorado and the Water Law Section of the Colorado Bar Association), and transcripts of proceedings in the U.S. Supreme Court regarding the Central Arizona Water Project, Volumes 22-24/25/27. III. TOPICAL FILES holds 10 boxes of including Delaney Ranching Land Deeds, Stock ledgers, Correspondences and Bill of Receipts from 1933-1978, Farming and Ranching Folders containing various Department of Agriculture bulletins, circulars, and reports, Colorado Grazing Districts under the Taylor Grazing Act of 1934, the Rules and Regulations for implementing the Taylor Grazing Act and the Ute Indian lands and the Taylor Grazing Act, The petitioning board of the Office of Price Administration-War and Peace regarding Sugar and Oil and Gas, the Colorado State Planning Commission Correspondence (1935-1939).

III. TOPICAL FILES continue discussing Delaney’s Congressional Campaign of 1941, his speeches, and Certificate of Elections. It also encompasses Delaney’s Law Office, an abstract of his title certificate, the Aspen Municipal Codes, and blank procedural forms, forms and sample instructions for juries, and Grand Juries, appointment books for various years between 1945 and 1978, maps and Notes from various years from 1936 to 1978 and stenographer’s notebooks from the 1960s and 1970s. IV. FINANCIAL RECORDS consist of 10 boxes of financial records including Income Tax Matters, Day books, ledgers, and Account Receivable ledgers. It also includes Bank Statements from the First National Bank of Glenwood Springs, Colorado National Bank of Denver, and 78 envelopes of Bank Statements and canceled checks from the First National Bank of Glenwood Springs (1930-50, 1962-66), 4 Envelopes from the Colorado National Bank of Denver (1950, 1952, 1954, 1978) and an envelope full of blank Deposit slips from the First National Bank of Glenwood Springs.

V. PERSONAL PAPERS comprises 6 boxes. These include correspondence between Delaney and his brother, Edward “Ed” Delaney, Patricia Delaney Dunn and family (his daughter), Medicare and Medical Bills, and Miscellaneous Personal Memoranda and Documents, a University of Colorado Distinguished Service Award, 1974, Certificates and Resolutions of Appreciation, the Frank Delaney Estate, and the Sarah Delaney Estate. This section also includes the papers of Ethel Delaney, including documents and papers, photos of Frank Delaney, Forest Service brochure and map of the Routt National Forest, a tract and lease of the Moffat Tunnel Railroad, AAA Rocky Mountain Travel Guide (1937), Bill Graham’s Till Armageddon, New Webster’s Dictionary and Complete Vest Pocket for 1983, and Cosklin’s Shakespearean Manual 1907.

VI. OVERSIZED is oversized items including 11 Account Books (1941-1975), 7 casual photos of the Delaney Ranch, hand drawn photo of the Delaney Ranch at New Castle, a map of the Delaney Ranch (New Castle) and the Colorado River, photo of the staff of the Denver City Attorney’s Office, a photo of the 1912 Graduating Class, University of Colorado Law School and numerous water maps from throughout Colorado. Fully two-thirds of the Papers are comprised of numbered files arranged in a generally chronological fashion as data was transferred from active to inactive files in the Delaney legal offices. The numbered files contain legal documents and correspondence relating to Delaney’s career as a District Attorney and as a lawyer in private practice. There were no file folders in the Delaney materials for those numbered files shown as vacant. The unnumbered files section of the Collection contains client and case files which had not been given file numbers. The material covers the span of Delaney’s legal career. The chronological files primarily contain correspondence and financial information, although there are some legal documents as well. This general division of materials within the Delaney office files creates content overlap among the various sections of the Collection. Thus, information about or by a given person or subject often may be found in more than one section.


  • 1914 - 1978

Biographical Note

In 1880, John and Sarah Durkin Delaney left Pennsylvania with their young family to settle in Colorado, where John Delaney initially was involved in various western slope mining ventures. By the time his son, Frank, was born in 1889, John Delaney had become a prominent cattleman and rancher in the Meeker area.

Raised on the Delaney family ranch, located on the lower White River in Rio Blanco County, Frank Delaney developed a lifelong interest in ranching. From 1910, when he became part owner of the Delaney Ranch until his death in 1978, Delaney continuously owned an interest in western slope ranch property.

Although an active cattleman and rancher, Delaney’s professional career was in the law. He attended the University of Colorado School of Law where he received his LL.B. in June 1912. After graduating, Delaney worked as an Assistant Attorney in the Denver City Attorney’s Office. After 1913, Delaney lived in Arizona, where he was practicing law, until he was called back to Meeker the following year to work as the Assistant District Attorney for the Colorado Ninth Judicial District. From April 1915 through December 1943, Delaney served as District Attorney for the Ninth Judicial District, which included Rio Blanco, Garfield and Pitkin Counties, as well as Moffat and Routt Counties until 1921, the duties of which required extensive travels throughout the region. While overseeing the five-county jurisdiction, he lived in Meeker where he met Ethel Atwood and the two married in December 1916. Ethel often worked with her husband, learning shorthand so she could act as his legal secretary. In 1921, Frank and Ethel Delaney moved to Glenwood Springs.

In addition to his duties as District Attorney, Delaney conducted a general legal practice in all areas associated with law in rural western Colorado including water rights, minerals, property ownership, estate probate and domestic relations. Delaney represented both sides in disputes over oil shale leases and conflicts between owners of surface land holders of grazing permits.

During his 65 years as a practicing attorney, Delaney continuously used his legal training and expertise in public service. He drafted the Colorado Range Law of 1929 and was instrumental in writing the Taylor Grazing Act (1934) sponsored by U. S. Congressman Edward T. Taylor from western Colorado. Such legislation allowed cattle and sheep to graze on public lands in a fashion generally seen by both sides as equitable management of the public domain. For many years, Delaney was a Director of the Western Slope Cattle Growers Association. In 1941, he ran unsuccessfully as the Democratic candidate for U.S. Representative from the Fourth Congressional District of Colorado.

Delaney’s impact on Colorado and the legal profession, however, came in the area of water resource development and water law. Early in his career, Delaney sought to protect western Colorado from exploitation of its water resources by outside interests. He was one of the founders of the Western Colorado Protective Association, which organized to gain public support for retention of western slope water. Delaney was a member of the Board of Directors and a moving force in the Association for many years. In 1935, Delaney was appointed to the Colorado State Planning Commission. For a decade he was an influential voice on the Commission for the controlled development of Colorado water resources. Instrumental in the organization of the Colorado River Water Conservation District, Delaney was Counsel for the District from its inception in 1937 until his retirement from that position in 1956. He represented the District and other Conservancy Districts in much important water litigation, such as the trans-mountain cases growing out of the Blue River Diversion Project. The favorable settlement of the Blue River cases was a major achievement for Delaney and the District.

Delaney was largely responsible for formulating the compensatory storage and protective operating principles incorporated in Senate Document 80 regarding the Colorado-Big Thompson Project. His work on Senate Document 80 is one of Delaney’s major contributions to the development of water law and protection of western slope water. Delaney also played a primary role in negotiation of the Upper Colorado River Compact (1948), enactment of the Colorado River Storage Act (1956), and promotion of participating Storage projects.

Thus, professionally and personally, Delaney worked to promote the conservation and rational use of water resources in Colorado. Considered an eminent water authority, Delaney was a consistent advocate in litigation and legislation proceedings to preserve in-basin use of western slope water.

Delaney was actively involved in the legal profession until he died in Glenwood Springs on December 18, 1978.


340.5 linear feet

Language of Materials



Frank L. Delaney (1889-1978), Western Colorado cattleman, rancher and attorney, served as a District Attorney, and became an eminent water authority. He wrote, and was instrumental in writing, the Colorado Range Law of 1929 and the Taylor Grazing Act of 1934. He helped form the Western Colorado Protective Association, was as member of the Colorado State Planning Commission, ran unsuccessfully as the Democratic candidate for U.S. Representative from the Fourth Congressional District of Colorado, and functioned as the Director of the Western Slope Cattle Growers Association. The Frank L. Delaney papers consist of the business and professional papers of Frank L. Delaney.


This collection is arranged into the following series: Series 1: Business and Personal Papers Series 2: Water Files Series 3: Topical Files Series 4: Financial Records Series 5: Personal Papers

In Progress
Processed By: Phyllis Kaplan, 1985 Edited By: John A. Brennan, 1985 Format by: Brynn Zalmanek, June, 2013 Re-Edited by: Todd Ford, July, 2013
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Repository Details

Part of the University of Colorado Boulder Libraries, Rare and Distinctive Collections Repository

1720 Pleasant Street
184 UCB
Boulder Colorado 80503 United States