It is difficult to make out, but the map above, from Justice Hobbs’ collection, is a mid-19th century “Map of the Rocky Mountain Region.”
The first event of the annual Colorado River Water Users Association meetings by tradition is a look back. Retired Colorado Supreme Court Justice and senior water judge Gregory Hobbs escorts attendees back to the early, formative days of Colorado River law, which means he examines events in the mid-1800s and beyond.
As Hobbs himself observes, knowledge of the history of the Colorado River and its tributaries is essentially for understanding where things stand now.
“The most basic and fundamental lesson we ought to teach in our schools are these (Colorado River) compacts,” said Hobbs.
“The agreements among the Colorado River states allowed each state to use their allocation as they saw fit.”
An integral part of Justice Hobbs’ presentation each year is his effective use of maps, especially those created in the early days of Western settlement. Most of the maps that Hobbs uses in his CRWUA presentations are from his own extensive collection, which he since has donated to the Colorado Supreme Court. In 2010, Hobbs donated a substantial portion of his carefully archived papers to the Denver Public Library.
Many of the maps he uses at CRWUA are identified as “desecration maps.” Those mostly ancient maps, he said, constitute the “primary source documents that remind us who we are.”