Georgetown & Silver Plume
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About Georgetown & Silver Plume
The first settlers to the area were George and David Griffith, two prospectors from Kentucky. They came during the “Pike’s Peak Gold Rush.” The Griffiths created the Griffith Mining District in June 1860 and the “Georgetown Company” was formed shortly thereafter.
Georgetown sits at 8,530 feet and was nicknamed “Silver Queen of Colorado” in 1879. It is the only Colorado municipality that still operates under a charter from the Territory of Colorado.
Silver was discovered on September 14, 1864, by James Huff up the canyon in the Argentine Pass area. In the following years, thousands of mines were dug in the mountains surrounding Georgetown.
The original settlement was called “George’s Town.” As more men began arriving to the area, they renamed the settlement “Elizabethtown,” supposedly named after Griffith’s sister-in-law.
The town quickly grew into a center for prospectors and mine workers in the surrounding mountains. A post office was established in 1866 and towns people decided on the permanent town name of Georgetown. Georgetown was growing faster than any community in Colorado. As Georgetown grew, it bustled with the daily arrival of Concord stage coaches.
Coming of the Railroad
The Georgetown, Breckenridge, and Leadville Railroad reached Georgetown in August 1877. The use of wagon roads for primary transportation could be abandoned in favor of the railroad for freight, passengers and ore. Mountain tourism began to flourish.
Prior to the introduction of automobiles in the early 1900s, railroad excursions were very popular.
Panic of 1893
Georgetown once rivaled Leadville as the mining capital of Colorado. The magnificent “Silver Boom” saw its demise beginning with the “Sherman Silver Purchase Act of 1890” and the final nail in the coffin came in the “Panic of 1893.”
Prior to the Panic of 1893, the estimated population of Georgetown was 10,000 hardy souls. The town once organized a movement to make Georgetown the capitol of Colorado.
The Oldest Profession
Shady ladies made a quick appearance in the camp and quickly began the lusty work of “mining the miners!” We cannot dismiss or short change the “Soldiers of the Lord” who were, as always . . . not far be-hind. — excerpt from “Georgetown – Birth of a Town.”
Georgetown Loop Railroad® History
After the Georgetown, Breckenridge, and Leadville Railroad reached Georgetown, successors included the Colorado Central Railroad and Colorado & Southern Railway. Trains stopped running in 1939 and the line was dismantled; it was restored in the 1980s as a historic tourist train.
The Georgetown Loop Railroad was built in 1884 to connect Silver Plume two miles away via a steep and narrow canyon along four and half miles of track; it followed the narrow canyon in a corkscrew design. The loop was considered an engineering marvel at its time. The loop portion was the crowning segment that included the 95 foot high “Devil’s Gate High Bridge.”
In addition to the Georgetown Loop, be sure to visit the:
- Energy Museum —
- Hamill House Museum —
- Hotel de Paris Museum —
- Alpine Hose #2 Firefighter Museum —
Georgetown Gateway Visitor Center
The center provides information about, and interpretation of, the Georgetown Silver Plume National Historic Landmark District. Following the close of restrooms at the Eisenhower/Johnson Tunnels in 2001, CDOT (Colorado Department of Transportation) required a new location for those services.
The response has been staggering! In the past 11 years, the Center has welcomed 3,955,338 visitors on the I-70 Mountain Corridor. They are open 365 days a year and have not missed a single day in those years. Restroom hours are from 6:00 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily. Information services and gift shop are open daily from 9 am to 5 pm. The Visitor Center is staffed by paid staff and volunteers during all information service hours.
The Georgetown-Silver Plume Historic District
The Georgetown-Silver Plume Historic District comprises Georgetown, the neighboring town of Silver Plume, and the Georgetown Loop Historic Mining & Railroad Park between the two towns. The district was designated a National Historic Landmark on November 13, 1966.
Silver Plume Museum
The George Rowe Museum is located in a historic school house built in 1894, after the Panic of 1893. Major George Rowe purchased the schoolhouse in 1959 and reopened it as a museum 1960. The museum features mining, railroad, fire fighting, community and school house history. You’ll also find related artifacts and early town characters.
Vintage Georgetown Photos
Vintage Silver Plume Photos
The Four Seasons of Georgetown