In addition to terminating his lease on the historic home and hydroelectric power plant perched vertiginously atop Bridal Veil Falls in 1907 (and added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1979), Jacobson sold various surface and storage water and pipeline rights and deeded the mining company access easements along the existing water system in a deal that closed last month, according to public documents on file with the San Miguel County Clerk and Recorder.
“I’m very happy with Bridal Veil and it’s going to be with great sadness” that he and his family will no longer live there, said Jacobson of the property he first began pursuing in 1981. “It’s our collective identity and it’s hard to shed that.”
Which begs the obvious question: Why leave?
“I’m tired of all the water litigation; there’s somebody suing me all the time,” he said.
“I feel it’s necessary,” agreed Jacobson’s wife, Alessandra. “You can have really blessed things in your life that become a nuisance.”
“I feel really privileged to have spent 13 years there,” she continued, but repeated lawsuits and the reality of trying to raise three school-age children from a bird’s nest above the box canyon part-time led the couple to conclude it was time to move on.
The family must vacate the property on November 1, but has until next August to remove belongings from the home that was left to fall into disrepair when previous inhabitants left in 1954.
After acquiring the lease, Jacobson got the generator back running in 1991, and spent easily more than a decade restoring the structure. He retained the original floor plan and salvaged as much of the original materials as possible.
“It’s hard to leave,” he said. But, comparing himself to “a sculptor that’s been beating on his marble for 20 years,” he said, “once he has it done, what should he do next?”
And so, with the house and generator complete, “it’s time to start tapping on another piece of rock.”
Beyond confirming that Idarado will continue running the hydroelectric power plant, general manager Bill Lyle provided few other details about the company’s plans for the property.
Omar Jabara, a spokesperson for the Newmont Mining Corp., which owns Idarado, said: “We are still in the process of transitioning ownership and operation of the power plant. We will be working with the city to evaluate the facility and discuss plans for its future,” he wrote in an email to The Watch.
“Idarado, in discussions, seemed fully committed to maintaining and preserving the historical status of it,” Jacobson said.
As for the impact the lease transfer will have on the Town of Telluride’s plans to build a new water treatment plant in Bridal Veil Basin, “There’s really no implication for us that we know of at this point,” said Town Attorney Kevin Geiger.
“Everything that we’ve done has been settled in a court of law and we’ve been working with Idarado,” he continued, noting that while the transaction had the effect of transferring water rights owned by Jacobson to Idarado, it did nothing to decrease the town’s water rights.
The larger consequence of the sale may simply be that with Jacobson’s departure the Town of Telluride and Idarado are left as the only major water rights holders in the basin.
“There are only two principal parties now and the town’s not going anywhere,” Geiger said.
Jacobson, who still retains private mining claims in Bridal Veil Basin, said he envisions that he will continue to play a part in operating the power plant – at least initially.
“Since I designed most of the control systems I suspect that we’ll all stay happily in touch,” he said.
Neither Jacobson nor Lyle would reveal the price of the purchase, but Jacobson said that it was enough to fund a new hydroelectric project he already has in the works.
“That really makes leaving Bridal Veil easier,” he said.