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TABLE OF CONTENTS
1. OVERALL (narrative) OUTLINE
2. HISTORICAL BACKGROUND
2.1 A Summary of the Georgetown Loop Historic Mining Area
2.2 Special Site Report on Georgetown Loop Mining District,
Clear Creek County
2.3 Silver Capital
2.4 Silver Plume
2.5 (Under Separate Cover) Narrow Gauge to Central and
Silver Plume, pp. 72-87
2.6 Georgetown Loop Ownership and History
2.7 Archaeological Excavations at Georgetown, Colorado:
the Lebanon Silver Mine and Mill Site
2.8 Economic Geology of the Georgetown Quadrangle
2.9 Mountain and Plain History Notes, May, 1967
2.10 Georgetown Fact Sheets
2.10b Architectural Conformity Law
2.10d The Georgetown Society, Incorporated
3. GRAPHIC MATERIAL (MAPS)
3.1 Plan Index
3.2 8 x 11 Map, Central Colorado
3.3 81 x 11 Map, Clear Creek County (GLHMA)
3.4 8 x 11 Map, Mining Claims in GLHMA
3.5 8 x 11 plan and Profile, Georgetown Loop
3.6 8 x 11 Map, Route of Interstate Highway 70
3.7 8 x 11 Plan of Lebanon and Everett Mine
4. GRAPHIC MATERIAL (PHOTOGRAPHS)
To be submitted under separate cover.
6. PROGRESS REPORTS
6.1 Summary of Planning Meetings, August 14, 1964
6.2 Status Report, December 7, 1964
6.3 Progress Report, June, 1967
6.4 Progress Report, June, 1968
6.5 Progress Report, October 15, 1969
7. SITE PLANNING
7.1 Outline of Objectives
7.2 Advisory Committee Reports
7.2a March 7, 1966
7.2b. Committee Assignments
7.2c April 15, 1966
7.2d August 19, 1966
7.2e Finance Requirements
7.2f September 8, 1967
7.2g October 13, 1967
7. SITE PLANNING (Continued) Page 2
Agreement, June 14, 1965
Preservation Liason with Highway Department
Memorandum of Agreement (Project No. 1523)
Department of Transportation Award, 1969
8. LAND ACQUISITION / CONTROL
8.1 Central Valley Floor
8.2 Peripheral Valley Floor
8.3 Peripheral Lower Slopes
8.4 Peripheral (Floor and Slopes)
8.5 Peripheral Upper Slopes
8.6 Private Enclaves
8.7 Silver Plume Terminous
8.8 Bureau of Land Management Classification Action
(related to 8.4)
9. LAND DEVELOPMENT
9.2 Earth Moving
9.3 Wooden Bridge Construction
Railroad Rolling Stock
Mountain and Plain History Notes,
Mountain and plain History Notes,
November 13, 1973
11. MINING INTERPRETATION
11.1 Tunnel Restoration
11.2 Buildings Construction
11.3 Mine Manager's House Restoration
12. MILLING INTERPRETATION
11.1 Lebanon Mill
11.2 Mountain and Plain History Notes,
June, 1974 (arrastra)
13. PUBLIC ADMINISTRATION
13.1 Administration / Visitor Orientation
13.2 Comfort Facilities
13.3 Parking Facilities
14. COST AND PROJECTED EXPENSE SUMMARY
1 OVERALL (narrative) OUTLINE
The attached Fact Sheet outlines in some detail the
history of the development of the Georgetown Loop
Historic Mining Area not only to chronicle its develop-
ment but also to acknowledge wherever possible the many
contributions of time, energy, money, and material that
made possible the preservation and restoration of this
significant historic site in Colorado.
NOTE: Numbers appearing throughout the Outline refer to
specified sections that follow which treat in depth the
matter referred to in the Outline.
1 OVERALL (narrative) OUTLINE
The Georgetown Loop Historic Mining Area
FACT SHEET W
From: The State Historical Society of Colorado
Stephen H. Hart, President
W.E. Marshall, Executive Director
James Edward Hartmann, Curator, Buildings and Sites
Edward F. Gerlits, Curator, Georgetown Loop
Historic Mining Area
Colorado State Museum
200 14th Avenue
Denver, Colorado 80203
The State Historical Society of Colorado has traditionally
endeavored to provide in-depth interpretation of important as-
pects of Colorado's history at various appropriate sites
throughout the state. Old Fort Garland, an early military
post, Fort Vasquez, a reconstructed fur trade post, and Ute
Indian Museum on Chief Ouray's farm are examples.
Under the guidance of James Grafton Rogers, a survey of
the state for an area applicable for interpreting the early
mining history in the late 1950's resulted in the selection of
the valley between Georgetown and Silver Plume for the following
1. It was an important early mining area, first producing
gold, then silver; A2.- .2,#) 4 7-2 8
2. It contained several major elements of historic mining
operations substantially intact, including tunnels and
equipment and an early stamp mill; %3,
3. The mines and mill could be made extremely accessible
by reconstructing trackage of the most colorful and
noteworthy section of railroad in the state, the famous
Georgetown Loop; 3, a d 3,5
The Georgetown Loop Historic Mining Area
4. The valley had not been appreciably developed;
5. It was accessible to the traveling public via
Interstate 70. 53A,-3.3,3.,
Following the gift of land, the State Historical Society
began a development outline for restoration of the historic
mining and railroad features of the area as a full-scale
interpretation of all phases of the history of mining prior
to the turn-of-the-century; the Colorado gold rush, the im-
portance of the mining industry to the development of the
territory and state in subsequent years, and the dependence
of the mining industry on the railroad were all to be a part
of the story told in graphic and hopefully operational form.
Revelation of plans by the Colorado Department of High-
ways to construct Interstate 70 through the valley was the
catalyst that initiated the first major steps toward the
preservation and historical development of the area. The
development of a preliminary plan that the Highway Department
could take under advisement was funded with a Colorado General
Assembly appropriation of $6,000. Mr. Jared B. Morse, archi-
tect and planner, was employed to prepare the pre-preliminary
plans due to his long association and interest in the area and
his deep concern with the essential preservation of the narrow,
Early efforts to orient highway plans to the historic
site resulted in the abandonment of a proposed detour through
The Georgetown Loop Historic Mining Area
the valley floor which would have done irreparable damage.
The width added to the existing highway to build to standards
of the Interstate system was, to a greater degree than ori-
ginally planned, taken out of the mountain rather than con-
structed with fill dumped into the valley below. Allowances
were made in the highway plans to accommodate the old railroad
right-of-way in several places where it and the highway right-
of-way were in close proximity or actually overlapped.
Similar care was taken with the historic mine portal areas
and existing stamp mill where precautions resulted in minimal
damage to the site.
More than simply protecting the historical values and
natural features within the valley throughout the construction
of the highway, the Colorado Department of Highways substantially
supported the Society's development plans in a number of
significant ways. Excess fill (approximately one-half million
yards) caused by the road construction was concentrated in
three areas, two to provide fill for a future parking area on
the north end and a railroad terminal-museum-repair shop area
on the south, and the third to construct a scenic overlook off
of Interstate 70 itself. In addition, about one hundred
thousand yards of topsoil and peat bog were stockpiled and
later used for side-slope cover and planting. The Department
also reconstructed elements of the wagon road and railroad
right-of-way that were damaged during the course of the
The Georgetown Loop Historic Mining Area
Employing funds derived from the Federal Highway Scenic
Easement program, crucial parcels of land were purchased and
upon completion of the construction work itself, most of the
land appropriated during this period was leased to the Society
with the approval of the Federal Bureau of Public Roads.
While coordination problems were rather substantial and the
demands made upon both the Department and the contracting
company, the H-E Lowdermilk Company, were considerable and
necessitated great cooperation, the effort won for the Colorado
Department of Highways a national award (Department of Trans-
portation) -- M outstanding Xxample of the preserva-
tion of historicc bites in 1969. 74
As construction planning and work began to reveal the
extent to which the valley could be preserved, the need was
realized for more detailed planning by the Society concerning
the historic elements in need of restoration or reconstruction.
In December, 1966, the Union Pacific Railroad Foundation
donated to this effort a $10,000 grant which was used to re-
employ the site planner to enlarge upon the sketchy pre-
identified, and an overall plan regarding the type and placement
of historic features were outlined. Special attention was
paid to key historical elements of the valley including the
remnants of the ore processing mill, several wooden access
bridges, and to the historical Loop trestle.
The Georgetown Loop Historic Mining Area Page 5
The accelerated pace of historic and preservation
activity throughout the state coupled with the limited staff
and funding at the disposal of the Society made any serious
effort to implement the plans impossible and no significant
development was initiated until the latter part of the 1960's.
Most of the accomplishments during the early period, however,
resulted from volunteer assistance and moderate but crucial
financial support from both public and private sources. During
this time, when the project was in its critical formative
stages and going almost unheard of, it was largely through
the donated efforts of the Georgetown Loop Historic Mining
Area Advisory Committee, a group of thirty-five prominent men
under the chairmanship of William Williams formerly of the
State Planning Department, that the concept continued to gain
credence and momentum.
While key portions of the valley floor had been secured
and were thereby protected from outside development that could
adversely affect the historical ambiance of the area, it became
evident that legal arrangements should be made with the Bureau
of Land Management regarding its holdings in the immediate area
that could likewise be available for development inimical to
the beauty and historicity of the valley. In 1966, the Society
submitted an application to the Bureau to classify all lands
within the valley under its administration in conformance with
the Recreation & Public Purposes Act to prevent commercial and
The Georgetown Loop Historic Mining Area Page 6
destructive exploitation. In April, 1968, the Bureau submitted
its proposed decision, reducing the area of the Society's request
by a considerable amount stating that lands outside of the area
delineated were mineral in character and not possible for such
classification. The Society appealed this decision and the
land area was subsequently enlarged to some degree.(.atf4O~'W
Thus, by the latter 1960's, the basic site had been secured
and preserved making development possible in the future. Two
small structures, the original Silver Plume depot and the
historic mine manager's house (Lebanon Mine) were the first to
receive attention. The Loveland Ski Associates saw to it that
the depot was moved from the Interstate 70 right-of-way prior
to its destruction and began to restore the neglected and
deteriorated building. From its temporary site, it was later
moved by the Society to its present location 1- where
it will M ] M "a serve as a museum devoted to moun-
tain narrow gauge railroading. The mine manager's house was
moved with the cooperation of the highway contracting company
out of the Interstate 70 alignment and was later donated to the
Society by its former owner, Jared Morse. A subsequent con-
struction project authorized by the state legislature and a
later historic preservation grant from the federal government
funded the basic restoration of the house which had sustained
some damage during the move.
The Georgetown Loop Historic Mining Area
As development continued, it became apparent that historic
archaeological work would be required to uncover and identify
the uses of the mine support buildings and missing elements of
the mill building that had disappeared through the years. Using
historic photographs to identify the general locations of the
buildings and facilities, a team of anthropology students from
Colorado State University spent six weeks during the summer of
1970 uncovering the needed evidence. Their findings were later
integrated into the reconstruction plans of the mine buildings
and will also be used in the mill building construction plans.
In 1969, the Climax Molybdenum Company offered to finan-
cially support and supervise the reopening of the mine tunnel
entrances that had been covered over during the highway con-
struction. Two tunnels were being considered for use in the
interpretation of mining in Colorado, the Everett and the
Lebanon. The contractors tackled the Everett first and it
turned out to be one overwhelming problem after another, finally
culminating in an impossible situation. However, the Lebanon,
which opens out almost directly onto the mill, was reopened
without the great difficulties encountered at its sister tunnel.
In the end, however, the contribution of the company grew to
be double the original commitment.
As the development continued to gather momentum, the
Society requested of the Denver and Rio Grande Western Railroad
railroad rolling stock and equipment that would be useful in
The Georgetown Loop Historic Mining Area Page 8
the interpretation of narrow gauge railroading to the public.
The company surveyed its inventory of rolling stock scheduled
for scrapping during its abandonment of the company's narrow
gauge line along the southern Colorado border, reserving from
salvage six pieces of rolling stock and a steam locomotive and
tender. Later, the company shipped them to the Denver Federal
Center where arrangements were made with the General Services
Administration for storage of the cars until the U. S. Army
Reserve 244th Engineer Battalion (Hvy Constr) could move them
from the Center to Silver Plume where they would be set on
track donated by the Colorado and Southern Railroad.
In the spring of 1972, Society staff members met with
staff of the U. S. Army administered Domestic Action Program
hoping to enlist the support of the Army toward further develop-
ment of the area. After discussions and on-site inspections, the
Army agreed to contribute men, equipment, and expertise toward
the project under the provisions of the Program which included
waivers from each of the labor unions whose work potential
would be affected. Demonstrating the importance of the George-
town Loop Historic Mining Area to the physical heritage of
the State, the magnitude of the project, and the financial
problems attendant in that regard, the unions cooperated with
the Society enabling the work to proceed. The Colorado Labor
Council, Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Engineers, Teamsters
Construction Workers Local No. 13, and Northern Colorado
The Georgetown Loop Historic Mining Area
Buildings and Construction Trades Council all have endorsed
the Society's efforts in the past, thus allowing the contri-
butary work to take place.
During the summer of 1972, the U. S. Army 4th Infantry
Division (Mech) moved in elements of the 4th Engineers
Battalion and the 52nd Engineers Battalion where they constructed
two wooden bridges, installed chain link protective fencing
around the Silver Plume depot and yard, graded the railroad
bed to remove accumulated slide fill and vegetation, dug a
three-foot crawl space for the depot foundation, constructed
a parking area from road fill left piled for that purpose,
and removed a number of large boulders that had prevented
archaeological investigation on the foundation of a mine support
As plans of the area continued to progress, the state
legislature began to support the Society's efforts to restore
certain historic building elements, agreeing to fund the
reconstruction of mine support buildings in full and approxi-
mately one-half of the restoration of the mill building and
associated withholding pond that generated the water head to
power the original water turbine. Plans have already been drawn
up for construction work on the mine buildings while those for
the mill await additional research to identify and locate the
type of crushing machinery originally used in the building.
The effort to identify such machinery utilized both in the mines
and mill was given considerable assistance when the Morse Brothers
The Georgetown Loop Historic Mining Area
Machinery Company donated to the Society over one thousand
machinery catalogues covering this historic period of steam
and water powered equipment.
In the spring of 1973, the Society began to negotiate
with the Colorado Central Narrow Gauge Railway, a company
that had expressed an interest in operating the railroad as
a concessionaire. Several months of discussions convinced
the Society that the company was willing to accede to the
stringent requirements that would be imposed upon the rail-
road operation to guarantee that it would meet the self-
imposed standards of quality evidenced at other of the Society's
con+1Viud4 +0o VteO+W#-
historic sites. The Society S e..um. WS. with the company
to operate the railroad as an authentically operated, regu-
larly scheduled steam powered transit system to and from
various points of interest in the Georgetown Loop Historic
At approximately the same time, the Society made appli-
cation to the Union pacific Railroad, hoping that the company
would donate several miles of track and fittings. Indicating
an interest in the historic Georgetown Loop, which was a part
of the Union Pacific system before the turn of the century,
the company searched its holdings for the rare, lightweight
narrow gauge track that would be suitable for use. The search
two aviJ one-kalf
turned up g miles of seventy pound rail on the
Union pacific's Boulder branch that was scheduled for removal.
The Georgetown Loop Historic Mining Area
Upon location of the track, Union Pacific president, John
C. Kenefick offered the rail and fittings to the State
Historical Society. Again, the 244th Engineer Battalion
offered to assist the Society in stripping the trackage
and transporting it to its destination at the site.
When the Georgetown Loop was salvaged, all of the bridges
spanning Clear Creek had also been removed, and while casting
about for bridging material, a familiar looking iron bridge
was noted off of U. S. 285 not far from Fort Logan. In-
spection of the bridge convinced a Society staff member that the
the bridge was one that had been salvaged but had escaped
being destroyed in the intervening thirty-five years. Owned
by the J. K. Mullen estate, it was not being used and the
Mullen foundation was prevailed upon to donate the bridge
for the Loop reconstruction. It was subsequently removed
and w-il- again spans Clear Creek on the original bridge abutments.
Many of the Society's hopes and plans were brought to
fruition when contacts with the Navy Seabees (Reserve Mobil
Construction Battalion 15) evidenced an interest in con-
tributing to the project while providing a training opportunity
in the techniques of railroad construction and maintenance as
a part of the Navy preparedness program. Preliminary dis-
cussions indicated that the tactical problems connected with
the month long proposed project could be met and would them-
selves provide useful training opportunities: providing food
The Georgetown Loop Historic Mining Area
and quarters for the men, coordinating the various military
units contributing to the project including not only the
Seabee units themselves, but the U. S. Army 4th Infantry
Division (Mech), 4th Battalion and 52nd Battalion, and
U. S. Army 244th Engineers Battalion (Reserve), elements of
which are contributing men and equipment to the work, and
directing the execution of the construction work itself.
Both drawing upon the expertise of the men within the military
units and also upon the technical knowledge of Society staff
and the staff of the Colorado Central Narrow Gauge Railway,
two summers' projects and a number of weekend drills have
culminated in the installation o- a mile and a quarter of
track and two bridges -- truly an advance toward a worth-
while and facinating historical restoration to be opened
officially, at least in part to the public during Colorado's
1976 centennial year.
2 HISTORICAL BACKGROUND
The publications that follow cover the early history of the area
in which the Georgetown Loop Historic Mining Area is being preserved
and restored. In fact, the two towns adjoining the GLHMA are an
integral part of the preserved area which altogether form the
Georgetown-Silver Plume National Historic Landmark.
The publications have been reproduced for this report in whole with
the exception of 2.h, 2.7, and 2.8 of which only the pertinent parts
have been included.
HISTORY OF THE GEORGETOWN LOOP HISTORIC MINING AREA
/96 Is/se t3
GEORGETOWN LOOP HISTORIC MINING AREA
Perhaps the most scenic and historic of all the Colo-
rado mining districts, and certainly the one that best pre-
serves the flavor of a bygone era, is the Georgetown-Silver
Plume region. It is one of the oldest mining districts in
the state, its gold veins having first been worked in 1859.
Among the gold-seekers who came to the region in '59
were two brothers, George F. and David T. Griffith, who pros-
pected along Clear Creek and worked their way to its source.
Here in August, 1859, they discovered a promising outcrop of
surface quartz, crushed and panned samples of it, and sluiced
out a hundred dollars worth of dust in two days.
They called their discovery the Griffith District, platted
a town on the site, and named it Georgetown in honor of George
Griffith. As in the other mining districts of the West, the
men of the Griffith District organized a miners' court and for-
mulated a code of laws to protect their mineral claims and to
bring a system of frontier law and law enforcement to their iso-
lated community. After 1861, when the laws of this extralegal
government were revised and codified, they were one of the most
eocprehensive sets of eueh laws in the territory.
When Georgetown received its charter from the terri-
torial legislature in 1868, its system of municipal govern-
ment was based directly on the laws of the old Griffith Min-
ing District. To this day the chief administrative official
of Georgetown is called "police judge," and he performs many
of the same functions as his predecessor, the judge of the
miners' court. Georgetown is probably the only place in
America still governed under the rules of the old frontier
When the first prospectors entered the region in 1859,
they found an area of natural beauty that made even the rough-
est miner wax poetic. One early prospector described the Clear
Creek Valley in this way:
Its waters were almost transparent, and every pebble
in its depths could be seen. Its banks were adorned
with nature's loveliest mantle, shaded by little for-
ests of evergreens. It was as rural and peaceful a
spot as the most devoted lover of the picturesque
Small wonder, then, that almost from the first, tourists
flocked to the area in numbers that nearly matched the
legions of miners who hoped to find the mother lode. Eb
late 1877, the narrow-gauge tracks of the Colorado Central
reached Georgetown, and the tourist trade became big business.
Liveries could be hired by tourists desiring a day's ex-
cursion to nearby mountain peaks and lakes. In 1884, the
Georgetown Loop was constructed to extend service to Silver
Plume. Circling back over itself a hundred feet above the
valley floor to gain altitude, the road traced a winding four-
and-a-half-mile path over the mile-and-a-half airline distance
between the two towns. Regular passenger excursions ran from
Denver to Georgetown and Silver Plume, carrying picnickers and
vacationers to the streams and mountain lakes in the area.
The Loop served the region for fifty-five years, but de-
clining revenues forced the abandonment of the line, and the
bridge was dismantled in 1939. The massive stone abutments of
the Loop still remain almost untouched, and most of the right
of way is now owned by the State Historical Society of Colorado
and other public agencies. Narrow-gauge rolling stock is avail-
it is o0A0ed that
able, and A restoration of the line Imqm as part of the
development of the Georgetown Loop Historic Mining Areaudill UtJIiMdte
Georgetown had several championship fire companies, and
thus it was spared from the disastrous fires that razed many
other old mining towns. Beginning in 1946, Georgetown citi-
zens followed an active program of preservation and resto-
ration, and the work done along this line in the last two dec-
ades probably ranks with the best in the country.
One of Georgetown's most interesting buildings is the
Hotel de Paris, built in the early seventies. It has been
restored by the National Society of the Colonial Dames of
America in the State of Colorado, and is now maintained as
a museum by that group. The Hamill House, home of a mining
millionaire of the eighties, has also been restored as a
museum. The Frank Maxwell House has been called one of the
ten best examples of American Victorian architecture, and
Grace Church, built in 1867-69, is said to be the oldest
Episcopal edifice in Colorado. Other significant buildings
are the Presbyterian Church, built of stone in 1873; the
Monti Block erected in 1867; and the Georgetown Public School,
built in 1874. The curiously-sloped walls of the old watch-
tower of the Alpine Hose Company are a silent reminder of the
days when the old structure guarded the town against fire.
About two miles west of Georgetown on the Bakerville wagon
road lies the little town of Silver Plume, which began as a min-
ing camp in the summer of 1870. It was named for the Silver Plume
lode, although there were other equally famous mines from which
to select a name--the Dives, the Pelican, the Baxter, the Frostburg,
and the Terrible.
Organized during the "flush times" of Georgetown, the
little community grew rapidly, stimulated by the tremendous
mining activity. Its merchants and bankers prospered, while
culture in the form of opera houses added to the town's at-
tractions. Many of the buildings are still extant and in a
reasonably good state of preservation.
The tragedy of the rich mineral discoveries is that much
of the wealth of the mines was spent in litigation between ri-
val claimants. The Dives-Pelican controversy, one of the most
famous of the "apex" cases, brought bloodshed to both Silver
Plume and Georgetown and, according to one writer, made most
of the lawyers in the territory rich.
Nestled in the lush valley between Georgetown and Silver
Plume is the heart of the Georgetown Loop Historic Mining Area,
which includes some of the oldest silver workings in the state.
The most important mines here are in the Lebanon-Everett group.
Evidence now available indicates that the Lebanon Tunnel is one
of the oldest silver mining tunnels in the state. Surface work
on the Lebanon-Everett group began as early as 1868, and the tun-
nel itself dates at least from 1870.
The Lebanon was operated successfully down to the 1940's.
The interior is dry, the original supports are still sound, and
the ore deposit is considered to be a good one. Restoration
plans include the resumption of work at the Lebanon, as a demon-
stration of early mining techniques, and restoration of the tun-
nel opening* at the Everett.
Although early ore recovery methods were limited to primi-
tive panning and sluicing operations, arrastras and stamp mills
were soon constructed. The first stamp mill, built for the
Griffiths, began crushing ore in 1861. By 1865, ore treatment
facilities in the valley included a forty-stamp mill with a re-
verberatory furnace. The silver rush of 1867 increased milling
activity, and mill sites soon dotted the valley. Each of these
methods of ore recovery will be demonstrated on the actual sites.
One of the earliest mills still exists on the Lebanon proper-
ty, and at least part of the original equipment was in use in 1949.
The mill had an unusual power source, with the water wheel ap-
parently completely submerged; nonetheless, it is said to have
worked efficiently, and some of the equipment is still available
for use in restoration.
Near the mill is the old Lebanon blacksmith shop. Here
mining tools were sharpened and repaired, and much of the min-
ing equipment was made here by hand. The building still ex-
ists on the site.
The region in which the Georgetown Loop Historic Mining
Area is located has a good deal of significance in the develop-
ment of silver mines in Colorado and throughout the world.
Three or four miles from the Lebanon-Everett lode is the site
of the old Burleigh Tunnel. Here Charles Burleigh, inventor
of the Burleigh Drill and Air Compressor, became the first man
in the United States to use a power drill to drive a mine adit.
*tfii ^lS~f~.v"''-;^*'^^~t^^~ji^ "'ii 5
in the United States to use a power drill to drive a nine adit.
In the early years on the Griffith lode, gold was the
chief objective of the miners, and the silver lodes tended
to be unrecognized and unexplored. From 1859 to 1867 Clear
Creek County produced more than two million dollars worth of
gold and only forty thousand dollars worth of silver. But in
1868, the first year of the silver boom, gold production was
only fifty thousand dollars, and silver production rose to a
hundred and forty thousand dollars. A peak was reached in 1874,
when the value of silver produced for the year surpassed the
two million dollar mark, and gold production declined to forty
thousand dollars. Although Clear Creek stayed at the two mil-
lion dollar level for several years, a rival producer appeared
in 1877, when the mines of the Leadville district began to pour
out great quantities of silver ore.
Georgetown was clearly eclipsed by Leadville as a silver
producer, and the district went into a slow but steady decline.
Built on a boom, its reckoning was tardy, but with the repeal
of the Sherman Silver Purchase Act in 1893 the plush days were
over. Families began to pack and move away, leaving their com-
fortable homes behind.
Today, the Georgetown Loop area is outstanding in scenic
and historic interest in the Rockies. Of the famous large Colo-
rado mining camps--Central City, Georgetown, Leadville, Silver-
ton, Ouray, and Cripple Creek--it is much the prettiest, the
best preserved, and the most quaint. The area was at one time
the second or third most populous settlement in Colorado. Only
Central City is older. The town never burned and dozens of
buildings remain, which are now nearly a century old, which pre-
serve the bright colors, ornate Victorian woodwork, and even in-
terior wall coverings and walnut moldings of the 1860's and 1870's.
The mines in the Loop valley are among the earliest and may be
in fact the first silver workings in the Rocky Mountain West.
Georgetown was so close to Denver that it became a tourist center
before any other point in the state. It was a half day's excur-
sion from Denver by 1877, and it is today only an hour from the
capital city. The area sits astride Interstate Highway 70, which,
because of the tunnels now being constructed or projected, is be-
coming a chief transcontinental route across the West.
5; it IP c II I
GEORGETOWN LOOP MININ
SPECIAL SITE REPORT
GORGETOWN IOOP MIINGO DISTRICT
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Location ..... .....
Ownership . ...
Historical Background .
Present Status ....
Summary of Historical Significance
Checklist of Maps and Photographs
. 9 9 9
.o e .
e e o e o e
The historic Georgetown Loop Mining District of Central
Colorado consists primarily of three parts--the communities of
Georgetown and Silver Plume, separated by about two miles, and the
Alpine valley between, with its once famous aerial railroad. The
history and scenery here may both be described as superlative.
Georgetown, county seat of Clear Creek County, was a
quaint colorful silver mining boom town of a century ago, once in-
habited by "instant millionaires," which has been marvelously pre-
served and restored. It is a community of about 400, with swelling
seasonal populations of skiers and tourists. Silver Plume, in con-
trast, is smaller and rough-hewn, a ghost-town staging a comeback.
The sheer mountain valley conceals a maze of ancient silver
mine shafts and tunnels (the oldest in the Central Rockies); the most
remarkable thing visible is the old narrow-gauge railroad grade and
trestle abutments which once accommodated one of the engineering mar-
vels of the Victorian Age, the terminal section of a narrow-gauge
railroad from Denver which traced a spectacular twisting 4 1/2-mile
route, climbing an altitude of 600 feet over the 1 1/2-airline mile
distance between the two towns. This is the Loop over which chugging
locomotives impartially hauled ore and thrill-seeking excursionists.
In the Rocky Mountain West this complex of contrasting
mining communities, silver mines and connecting railroad is both
unique and distinctive.
The Georgetown Loop area is nestled in the Rockies about
50 miles vest of Denver, just ten miles (by winding road) below Love-
land Pass on The Continental Divide. U. S. Highway 6, which coincides
with Interstate 70 now under construction, is the route of access.
The Colorado Historical Society has collaborated with the State High-
way Department and the Bureau of Public Roads in ensuring a routing
of Interstate 70 which, by a remarkable engineering effort, will leave
Georgetown, Silver Plume and the Loop substantially intact. When its
mammoth cuts and tunnels approaching the Continental Divide are com-
pleted, 1-70 will probably bear the main east-west transcontinental
auto traffic via Colorado.
While the old silver mines may be found as high as 13,000
feet, Georgetown itself is at an elevation of 8500 feet.
Georgetown is an incorporated municipality. Its many
historic features are owned variously by the town, historical
organizations and individuals.
Silver Plume is unincorporated, and largely in private
ownership tracts; the Colorado State Historical Society owns or
controls portions of the valley, including the railroad grade,
certain mine tunnels, and other significant remains, with the in-
tent of developing them as a state historical park.
For purposes of considering the Georgetown Loop Mining
District as a historical entity for national recognition, the Colorado
State Historical Society (E. 14th Ave. & Sherman, Denver, Colorado,
80203), should be considered as the coordinating agency.
In 1858 gold was first discovered in Colorado, along Cherry
Creek, and the ensuing white settlement of Auraria became the city of
Denver. In the 1859 "Pikes Peak Gold Rush" the metal was discovered
in the mountain slopes and valleys drained by Clear Creek, west of
Denver, giving rise to the gold camps of Idaho Springs, Central City
and Georgetown, in rapid succession. The latter, named for early
prospector George F. Griffith, was in a meadow at the junction of
Clear Creek and South Clear or Argentine Creek, just below towering
peaks. The abundance of tumbling water here not only furnished power
for crude water-wheels and electricity, but also ensured an unusual
degree of fire protection. The code of laws which were developed by
the original Griffith Mining District was taken over bodily by the
town chartered in 1868 by the territorial legislature, and still per-
tains to the town government.
The original Georgetown was threatened with early demise
through lack of a gold smelter; then, in 1864, more sophisticated
prospectors found a rich silver lode, called the Argentine, high up
on the nearby mountain, and soon every granite hillside seemed to yield
this treasure. This, the first American discovery of commercial silver
in the Rockies, soon converted Georgetown from an anemic gold camp to
a flourishing community, at one time surpassed only by Denver in
population. The peak of its feverish prosperity was during the ten
years following 1864, or until the next great silver boom began at
Leadville. Even then, Georgetown continued to prosper until repeal
of the Silver Coinage Act during the Presidency of Cleveland in 1893.
The town went into a gradual decline until its post-World War II
Georgetown was one of the more civilized of the early
mining towns, with less of the usual raucous violence, and much more
in the way of polite cultural refinements. It was laid out like a
checkerboard with blocks of frame and brick buildings. Because of the
difficulties of climbing up and down the precipitous mountain slopes,
many of the working miners chose to develop little villages right near
the mine portals. Silver Plume, near several rich mines, was the larg-
est of these satellite villages. This left Georgetown itself to become
the residence of mine owners, managers, engineers and various techni-
cians, as well as the social and commercial center for some 10,000
people who occupied the region during its zenith.
"Prosperity brought with it a vogue for display in Victorian
style. At a date when most mining camps were rows of white and red
frame sheds, if painted at all, this town paraded itself in tints of
orange, blue and chocolate. But a shade soon called Georgetown pink
predominated. Business buildings two and even three stories high ran
to metal cornices and decorated windows and doorways." (Rogers,
No small part of Georgetown's distinction relates to the
field of frontier transportation. At first its remoteness and the
rugged precipitous character of the approaches from Denver limited
the wagon traffic to essential conveyance of incoming supplies and
equipment, and outbound ore; while stage coaches brought passengers
to the diggings. The Lower Clear Creek Canyon itself long defied the
construction of wagon roads, and Georgetown could be reached only by
climbing mountain after mountain, two days by stagecoach or five by
animal-powered wagon. It was ten years after the first great gold
discovery that a railroad (the Kansas Pacific) reached Denver. It
was another ten years (1877) before promoters of the Colorado Central
Railroad blasted and hacked a track via the Clear Creek Canyon up to
Georgetown. In 1884 construction of the serpentine aerial Georgetown
Loop extended service to Silver Plume. The Union Pacific is reputed
to have had a controlling interest in the Colorado Central.
The railroad venture proved very profitable in spite of
frequent rock slides and gales which often derailed the rolling stock.
Although primarily designed to convey silver ore, this spur line pene-
trating into the heart of the Rockies, and climaxed by the sensational
loop to Silver Plume, rapidly became a tourist attraction:
"In summer as many as five trains a day carried visitors
from Denver to Georgetown and back. The little cars usually had roofs
but no walls or windows. On the uphill journey cinders showered into
drifts on floors, platforms and clothing. Sometimes the train stopped
to quench a forest fire set by red hot cinders on the canyon walls."
(Rogers) At Silver Plume the tourists had a gay time hiking, picnick-
ing and gathering mineral specimens. Some passengers proceeded from
there by stage coach over the Continental Divide to Leadville. The Loop
served the region for 55 years but declining revenues caused by the com-
peting automobile forced the abandonment of the line, which was disman-
tled in 1939.
Sources: Notes by Historian Merrill J. Mattes during a visit
to the site on May 26, 1966, in company with William Marshall, Director,
Colorado Historical Society. Silver Capital, a brochure by James Grafton
Rogers. A Sumnary History of the Georgetown Loop Historic Mining Area,
a prospectus by the Colorado Historical Society. Important references
cited by Rogers include Silvertown, by John W. Homer (Caldwell, Idaho,
1950); Georgetown by Benjamin P. Draper, Georgetown, (1940); The Hotel
de Paris by Gene M. Gressley, (Denver, 1955); Georgetown Quadrangle, by
Spurr and Garrey (Washington, 1908); Denver, South Park and Pacific by
M. C. Poor (Denver, 1949, 1959); and Stampede to Timberline by Muriel S.
Wolle (Boulder, 1949).
Largely because of its ample water supply and highly organ-
ized fire companies, Georgetown never burned (unlike so many other
frontier mining camps), and survives today as "a sort of fossil pre-
served by chance from days of Victorian lavishness, a Rip Van Winkle
sort of village." (Rogers)
Of course, all hasn't been left to lucky chance. Beginning
in 1946 Coloradoans became more keenly conscious of their historical
heritage. A Georgetown Civic Association was formed, and several
groups and individuals enthusiastically adopted one or more buildings
as a historical restoration project; today the town stands as one of
the best examples of an authentically restored period community, with
a beginning made on zoning regulations designed to prevent the destruc-
tion of historic buildings and discourage unseemly modern intrusions.
"One of Georgetown's most interesting buildings is the Hotel
de Paris, built and operated by Louis Dupuy, a fugitive Frenchman, in
the early seventies. It has been restored by the National Society of
the Colonial Dames of America. The Hamill House, home of a mining
millionaire of the eighties, has also been restored as a museum. The
Frank Maxwell House has been called one of the ten best examples of
American Victorian architecture and Grace Church, built in 1867-69, is
said to be the oldest Episcopal edicice in Colorado. Other significant
buildings are the Presbyterian Church, built of stone in 1873; the
Monti Block erected in 1867; and the Georgetown Public School, built
in 1874. The curiously sloped walls of the old watch-tower of the
Alpine Hose Company are a silent reminder of the old days."
(Colorado Historical Society, A Summary).
Another old business block shelters the Georgetown Loop
Railroad Museum, while the Clear Creek County Courthouse contains
intriguing records dating back to 1864.
The elegant and remarkably well preserved Hotel de Paris,
including nearly complete original furnishings, is open to the public
for an admission charge. The Hamill House, privately owned, is also
open for a small fee. The Maxwell House is not open to the public yet,
but the old two-story brick school, the several churches and the fire-
house may be inspected. Stores and cafes of vintage atmosphere operate
in the old building blocks, thus helping to preserve their frontier
character. Other museums and restorations for public benefit are planned.
The old stone school building in Silver Plume presently houses
a museum. Some other buildings there are still occupied by businesses,
but others stand or lean in classic attitudes of abandonment. While
Silver Plume of itself does not yet rank as a prime tourist attraction,
an enthusiastic mayor is encouraging restoration projects.
"The Loop area is a ravine scarcely two miles long, down
which foams a big stream falling 600 feet. A recent glacial moraine
above and a more ancient one below frame the little valley as seen
from the mountains or from the interstate highway traveling high on
its flank. In the bottom of the trough are some of the oldest silver
mines in the West. While the first silver was found near the mountain
summits, the ore there was mined for years only at the surface, in open
trenches. The Lebanon and Iris tunnels in the Loop Gorge began the
really great treasure hunt, and the mountains are now laced with old
From the beginning the miners stripped the lowlands of timber
for tunnel props, lumber and fuel; but groves of evergreens are march-
ing again down the cliff wall, helping to calm the winds of hurricane
velocity once reputed to plague the valley.
Evidence of the famous aerial loop railroad is abundant in
the surviving grade, with impressive dry masonry-lined cuts, and abut-
ments of trestles perched ominously over Clear Creek.
The Colorado Historical Society has acquired, largely through
donation by interested citizens, the substantial part of the old rail-
road grade, and related terrain. The Society has an ambitious plan
for the development of a "Georgetown Loop Historic Mining Area." The
prospectus reads as follows:
"The most important mines here are in the Lebanon-Everett
group. Evidence now available indicates that the Lebanon Tunnel is
one of the oldest silver mining tunnels in the state. Surface work
on the Lebanon-Everett group began as early as 1868, and the tunnel
itself dates at least from 1870.
"The Lebanon was operated successfully down to the 1940s.
The interior is dry, the original supports are still sound, and the
ore deposit is considered to be a good one. Restoration plans in-
clude the resumption of work at the Lebanon, as a demonstration of
early mining techniques, and restoration of the tunnel openings at
the Iris and the Everett.
"Many historic buildings of early mining towns remain in
the Loop region. The Society plans to assemble some of these on a
level site near the Lebanon tunnel and to reconstruct there a typical
small mining village of the 1870s. Included in the buildings would
be a railway station and water tower, a general store, assay office
and drug store, hotel, saloon and restaurant, blacksmith and carpenter
shops, stables, and stage office, bakery and dwellings. These will
be within walking distance of the parking area at the lower end of
the valley and within walking distance of the operating mines."
(Colorado Historical Society, A Summary)
Restoration of the Loop Railroad, complete with passenger
service, is also projected for the long term.
SUMMARY OF HISTORICAL SIGNIFICANCE
1. The Georgetown Loop area is a rare example of a very
compact, highly exhibitable mining district. In contrast to other
recognized frontier mining communities which, for practical purposes,
are limited to their respective town boundaries, this is a well-
integrated district complete with two surviving communities of con-
trasting character, each with an abundance of authentic surviving
and restored structures; and a spectacular mountain valley in between
with remains of mine shafts and tunnels, mills and scenic Loop railroad.
2. Georgetown, alone among Colorado mining communities, was
primarily a "manager's town," with plush accommodations and several
residences of grand Victorian design.
3. Georgetown is also remarkable among mining communities
because it was never scarred or gutted by fire, and many of its original
buildings, both public and private, are remarkably well preserved or have
been readily restored to their pristine condition.
4. The District had one of the oldest gold mines in Colorado,
and was the earliest silver mining complex (operated by Americans, that
is) in the Rocky Mountain area.
5. Georgetown is probably the only place in America still
governed under the rules of the old frontier mining district.
6. The Georgetown Loop was one of the prime 19th century
tourist attractions in the Rockies, rivaled only by Pike's Peak and the
77'0e>- ,r/* "A. /r s.>- ,
S ocr t0? r-y- c r-
CA\P A-A L
BY JAMES GRAFTON ROGERS
Being a Sketch of the Georgetown Loop Mining District,
Its Location, Historical and Scenic Interest
By James Grafton Rogers
Georgetown, Colorado, lies in the high Colorado Rockies about
fifty miles west of Denver. Interstate Highway 70, a main travel
route between the Missouri Valley and the Pacific Ocean runs east
and west through the center of the town and district, bringing it
about an hour from Denver on high speed lanes. The altitude is
8,500 feet at its lowest. There are mines as high as 13,000 feet.
No railroad now reaches the area although it was once the terminus
of a celebrated narrow guage carrier of ore and tourists. The
old mines are scattered along the bottoms and flanks of deep glacier
gorges cut by ice from some of the loftiest mountain peaks on the
The town of Georgetown never burned and survives today as a
quaint cluster of brightly colored Victorian buildings. For a
generation just after the Civil War this community was the largest
producer of silver in the world. Shrunk today from a substantial
small city to a hamlet of about 300 people, it survives as a center
for ski restaurants in winter and in summer as a museum and recreation
resort. It is also county seat of a mountain tract steadily filling
with homes of Denver suburbanites.
In 1859 gold was discovered for the first time in the Rocky Mountains.
A year prior the region now called Colorado had been a wilderness with
only a handful of white residents. The summer before some gold dust
had been found along a prairie stream near modern Denver and a
settlement of cabins had gathered which took the name Denver. The
mountains were quite unexplored and really vacant.
The gold discovered the first year in the mountains was all
in a single valley immediately west of Denver. This basin consisted
of slopes, canyons and gorges drained by what was called Vasquez
Fort or Clear Creek. Immediately along this watercourse there
sprang up promptly three camps or clusters of mines and huts. The
earliest colony was around what came to be called Idaho Springs
because of some hot water that bubbled and still bubbles nearby.
The second camp was named for its hub village and so known as Central
City. The third, much deeper into the high mountains, was referred
to as George's Town or Georgetown for a Kentucky boy who had found
ore there. All three of these settlements survive today.
Idaho Springs, the earliest and originally the smallest of the
triplets, is now the largest but least widely known. Its life has
been that of a rather minor mining and resort village. Central City
and its environs became a powerful and celebrated mining camp and a
political axis in the State, but today, after a hundred years of boom
and bust, ups and downs, breathes gently as the tiniest of the three
communities. It is given over almost wholly to an annual opera
festival produced each summer on the desolate mountain tops under
Denver sponsorship. The third camp, Georgetown, developed as a
phenomenon of the silver market and is what concerns us here. In
these three towns beat the heart of Colorado for about twenty years.
Sometime in the autumn of 1859, a few months after gold was revealed
in the creek sand at Idaho Springs and several months later found also
in rock veins at Central City, two boys from Kentucky named George and
David Griffith worked their way upstream along Clear Creek. Dense forests
and beaver swamps occupied for many miles the trough-like channels gouged
by departed glaciers. Like every other person among the several thousand
prospectors already swarming into the mountains, they were in search of
gold and like most others in the frontier could recognize no other mineral.
They reached finally a densely wooded stretch of valley which ran oddly
enough north and south instead of east and west like orderly streams
thereabouts. Forced to travel well up on the mountain slopes because
of willows and beaver dams they hammered rocks as they climbed and
finally stumbled on a vein of gold. This became the Griffith Mine.
It flourished later in an area of rich silver ore--the only valuable
gold vein ever developed thereabouts.
In an open space below the new mine which lay rather free of the
forest--the sort of opening called a "park" in the frontier jargon--
two large streams joined after tumbling noisily from steep valleys
above. One is now called Clear Creek and the other South Clear Creek
on the maps but both have been labeled with other names at times and
the townsfolk still refer to the southern fork as Leavenworth Creek,
Argentine Creek or Guanella Creek. These two streams came to play a
large part in the town history for they not only provided a household
water supply that encouraged shade trees, lawns and gardens but soon
furnished electric power for lights and mine machinery. Indeed water
was available so conveniently that the town never suffered a conflagration,
an experience rare among western mining camps, perhaps even unique.
The creeks flowed so tumultuously that there is no record of their
really freezing. From their presence sprang also a vogue for
volunteer fire departments. Fire fighting tournaments soon became
the fashion not only among the town companies but later on a state
scale. The four fire companies became athletic clubs with jealously
guarded membership and were the source of social and political
At the junction of these creeks two groups of huts or log
cabins soon clustered. The lower group was called George's Town
by the neighborhood and the upper, across South Clear Creek but on
the same easterly side of main Clear Creek, was called Elizabeth's
Town after a woman who was either a sister or sister-in-law of
George Griffith. After their discovery of pay rock the Griffith
boys had sent to Kentucky for other members of their family. The
two cabin groups combined before long as Georgetown.
Meantime, a miners government was set up, one of those self-
created bootstrap organizations of which hundreds developed in
California and Colorado and were called Districts. These govern-
ments were always the fruit of mass meetings assembled to establish
law and order in the lawless frontier and were often, as was the
case in Georgetown, the means of setting up quite elaborate codes
of law, of establishing miners' courts and even of exiling or
executing criminals. When after a few years Georgetown procured
from the Colorado Territorial Legislature a special town charter
to ligitimize its long established government, it sought and got
what amounted to a perpetuation of the Griffith Mining District.
Under this charter it still lives after almost a century. The
town has no mayor but is headed by an officer who is called simply
"police judge." This title is a translation of the Spanish word
"alcalde," meaning "judge," which is the same as the Moorish word
cadii" which appears so often in the Arabian Nights. The title
and indeed the function of this official were imported into
Colorado by prospectors who had followed the Gold Rush to California
a decade before and had there established miners districts modeled
after the local Spanish towns they encountered. In Georgetown the
police judge is what we Americans consider mayor, president of the
town council, judge and prosecutor all rolled into one. The village
appears to be the only miners district now surviving in America.
New mines were opened in Georgetown after the Griffith became
successful but the region met the same problem that almost
strangled Central City. Nobody knew how to smelt the gold ore,
plentiful as it might be. The new village scarcely survived for
the first half dozen years. Then an event startled the whole
Rocky Mountain region. A group of veteran prospectors whose
experience was not as confined to gold as was that of most of the
youngsters who were exploring the mountains, found rich silver ore
on the peaks almost within sight of Georgetown at a point soon called
Argentine after the Latin name for silver. Almost at once silver was
discovered in quantity in almost every direction within an hour's
climb from the village. This advent of the metal, the first discovery
of commercial silver in the West, was to influence American politics
for a generation. Locally it converted Georgetown from a dwindling
hamlet to a flourishing community, the third largest town in the
Territory and at times the second biggest, surpassed only by Denver.
For ten years after 1864 and until the silver boom began in Leadville,
Georgetown flowered as a rich, bustling and for its day a populous
community. Indeed it prospered until the repeal of the Silver Coinage
Act during the Presidency of Cleveland in 1893, and even after silver
lost its value the town went on as a busy political, tourist and trans-
portation center. Its activity covered about a generation. Then it
slumbered until recent years.
After the silver discovery the town was promptly laid out and
incorporated as an orderly checker board of streets and blocks of
frame and brick buildings deep beneath the cliffs, and occupying
the whole valley floor which was about a mile by half a mile.
It was far from a typical mining camp. After only a few disorderly
years of weekend fracases and an occasional lynching, the village became
a center not so much of "common miners" as the term went, but of mine
managers, engineers, professional men and technicians. The mines were
nearly all from a mile to four or five miles from the town. The miners
lived principally in little hamlets near the mine portals, for in winter
snow and avalanches choked the roads and in summer even the hardy hard
rock drillers were reluctant to make a breathtaking climb every day to
work. Indeed, these men spent twelve or fourteen hours a day underground
and so began and ended their labor in darkness for long months every year.
As a consequence many mountain villages sprang up where big mines
were developed, some large enough to support a school, churches and a
lodge hall. The largest was Silver Plume, two miles above Georgetown
on the main stream where a galaxy of rich and famous mines was gathered.
Others were called Silverdale, Brownsville, Graymont, Jo Reynolds,
Silver Creek, Alvarado and Montana City. Empire, situated only about
four miles away, was fairly independent as it was on another fork of
the creek on the way over a road to the north. By and large, however,
Georgetown became the market, church, social and business center for
at least 10,000 people, only about half of whom lived in its boundaries
and some of whom slept an hour's wagon travel away. It was one of the
largest mining camps anywhere in the West for many years.
Prosperity brought with it a vogue for display in Victorian style.
At a date when most mining camps were rows of white and red frame sheds,
if painted at all, this town paraded itself in tints of orange, blue
and chocolate. But a shade soon called Georgetown pink predominated.
Business buildings two and even three stories high ran to metal cornices
and decorated windows and doorways. The first big school house in-the
state was almost sumptuous and still stands. As the town was never
swept by fire, old structures, with their ornament still preserved or
recently restored with care, are numerous.
A butcher who made a small killing in a mine lease converted
his cottage into a rainbow of scroll work which survives unspoiled
and is known as Maxwell House. An ambitious Londoner who made a
fortune rebuilt another old house into a mansion, furnished it
extravagantly with parquet floors, embossed wallpaper, a conservatory
and two fountains. He surrounded its lawn with a stone wall, built
a masonry office as well as a coach house finished in walnut and even a
decorated outdoor privy. This property, with its luxurious furniture,
remains almost completely as he assembled it about a century ago. The
frontier mansion is opened in summer as a museum. Many other lesser
buildings of the days of flourish exhibit the old tints on gables,
coigns and window frames, especially the characteristic pink. The
town is a sort of fossil preserved by chance from days of Victorian
lavishness, a Rip Van Winkle sort of village.
Churches,cf course, were cherished. On weekends when miners
flocked down from the mountain tops, churches, pool halls, saloons
and theatres vied for attention. One theatre hall remains in the
third story of the highest office building, but there was doubt
about its safety from its first opening and it stands stripped and
vacant like most frontier opera houses, A good sized Roman Catholic
hospital and shrine with gothic arches was erected in the boom days,
but was burned by sparks from a locomotive after years of service.
Its neat successor has no particular historical interest. A stone
Presbyterian church bears an early date, but the little Episcopal
Church has both charm and historical value. It was begun promptly
after the silver discoveries, was built in the English vaulted tradition
and was erected with high carved rafters and pews cut from walnut
logs and planks which must have been hauled in by wagon from the plains,
for the church was in use long before a railroad came within a day's
travel of the town. The church blew over once on a Thanksgiving Day
in its youth, but was set up again without its belfry. The bell rings
from a low scaffold set nearby and safe from mountain hurricanes. This
building is the oldest surviving Episcopal place of worship in the Rockies,
and indeed perhaps west of the Mississippi, for the earlier structures
in this region and on the Pacific Coast seem all to have been burned.
It has in its loft a sweet old organ, once hand pumped but now powered
The Hotel de Paris is, however, the real treasure of the valley.
It also is a museum during the summer, having been bought and maintained
by the Colonial Dames at the solicitation of the State Historical Society.
In the last decades of the old century, Georgetown became a sort of
transportation station at the fartherest point to which rails had
penetrated the mountains from Denver. Here travelers spent a night or
two before beginning journeys by horse-drawn stage coaches to the north
and west over the Continental Divide. A number of hotels, some quite
inviting, lived on this trade but of them all only the Hotel de Paris
attained fame among epicures and has not perished.
It was built over a period of nearly thirty years, almost room by
room and largely with his own hands, by a fugitive Frenchman who called
himself Louis Dupuy. His name turned out after his death to be something
entirely different. The building is a reproduction and a very faithful
one of the small town inns of Normandy, among which French Louis, as the
town called him, had grown up. The builder was a fellow of a literary
bent and lived among his books. He was a socialist, philosopher, an
atheist, and former journalist. He was also a supreme cook whose meals
became nationally noted. Louis framed his dining room and other rooms
with walnut and other woods hauled by wagon train from the plains, for
no rails reached Georgetown until long after he began to build. He
furnished the lounges and bedrooms in the latest New York styles,
copying largely from a book depicting the Vanderbilt mansion on Fifth
Avenue in steel engravings. He served French wines, delicacies such
game and oysters, and did not welcome women customers. He ornamented
the building with metal statutes outside, and many classic prints,
busts and much plaster fresco work inside. It was all in good taste,
much superior to the average of his day. Suddenly one day he died of
pneumonia. By a set of lucky chances, produced like so many local
reservations by the long sleep into which the town lapsed from 1900
to 1950, the hotel remained almost unaltered, with its ornaments and
original furnishings intact until the Colonial Dames acquired it. It
is a fragment of rural France lifted unmarred into the deep recesses
of the Rockies.
The town saw many distinguished visitors such as General Grant,
Vice President Schuyler Colfax, Civil War heroes and writers but
launched some notables of its own. Edward 0. Wolcott came to the
town to practice law directly on his graduation from Yale, went on
to become United States Senator from Colorado, as well as an orator
of national fame and was seriously considered for the Republican
nomination for president the year McKinley was first elected. His
elder brother, Henry, who was already growing rich in smelting at
Central City sent him over the hill to Georgetown as to a community
full of opportunities. The log cabin where young Wolcott began his
practice still cuddles close to the shabby courthouse whose only
distinction is a jury room equipped with a dozen hand-painted rocking
chairs. Local prominent, well known in State history, were doctors
like L. E. Lemen and Denver civic leaders like Jacob Fillius. Perhaps
a character known as Stephen Decatur was as colorful a figure as Colorado
exhibited. He was an editor of one of the two newspapers in the community,
a state-wide politician and an irrespressible Fourth of July spellbinder.
He founded some towns over the Divide and because he editorialized
so often and so fluently about a certain silver mineral, he was
called "Old Sulphurets" by his cronies. Mountains are named for
him. He died in poverty as an alcoholic under the roof of an elderly
sporting woman in far off Wet Mountain Valley. There his tomb reads
only "Stephen Decatur" and many a visitor stops to inquire how the
naval hero came to rest in a grave in the Rocky Mountains. His real
name was Stephen Decatur Bross, but he never acknowledged it even
to his own brother, the founder of the Chicago Tribune and one of a
distinguished family. Decatur was a college graduate and teacher
who had deserted his school, his wife and children in New York to
wander west, fight in the Mexican War and accumulate at least one
more family en route. Some people called him the most erudite man
in the region, sprinkled as it was with literary lights and engineering
Although Georgetown took form in 1859 there was little travel
or traffic so far up Clear Creek Valley until the momentous discovery
of silver ore in September 1864 at Argentine in a lode first called
the Belmont, but later the Waldorf. At this early period travel from
the plains came along roads or rather tracks that sidled high on the
mountain sides both north and south of Clear Creek Canyon, but detoured
around the long ravine. For the last twenty miles before reaching the
plains, that is to say from present day Idaho Springs down to Golden,
the creek foamed through a deep canyon impassable to wagons or even
to a horse. The cliffs stood a thousand to two thousand feet high
both north and south of the stream and were interrupted only by two
or three gulches or tumbling tributaries. In spite of all the mining
excitement, about seventy-five years were to pass before a wagon wheel
rolled through the defile. For many years the mines at the doorstep
of Denver, so to speak, could only be reached by climbing mountain
after mountain well to the south or north of Clear Creek after first
entering the highlands through steep dry gulches. Georgetown when
it burst into prominence was two days by stagecoach or horseback
from Denver and five by wagons dragged by horses, oxen or mules.
The most used route from the plains at Golden to Central, Blackhawk,
Idaho Springs and Georgetown, or any of these, ran up Golden Gate
Canyon (a mile or two north of Golden), sidled then along the steep
slope of Guys Hill, and arrived at Blackhawk from the north. Thence
the main traffic to Idaho Springs and Golden struggled west through
Central City to a little pass called Yankee Hill into the big creek
called Fall River, downstream on it to Clear Creek and thence
either east on the latter two or three miles downstream to Idaho Springs
or upstream about ten miles to Georgetown. This last passage ran along
rather wide glacial valleys. A wagon train camped about five times
enroute, a horseman twice, a coach with fresh relays of four horses
twice--if they managed to stay on the sidling road or to escape snow-
There was another southerly route from Golden through Bergen Park
to Central City and Idaho Springs but it was too steep for an eastbound
load of ore and dangerous for a westbound load of tools and flour, as
wagons had to coast down Big Hill or Floyd Hill dragging a tree to
supplement the brakes.
Ten years went by after the first wave of the Gold Rush and the
migration of tens of thousands of men and some women to the diggings
before any railroad reached even Denver, situated well out on the plains.
Almost another ten elapsed before rails reached Georgetown, for all its
bustle of merchants and candle stick makers in the old phrase or miners
and promoters in a new. At last, in 1877, narrow gauge tracks reached
the settlement. Its townsmen for the first time heard in the distance
high pitched whistles, listened for the scream of wheels on sharp
curves and gathered at the station to welcome a noon train that smothered
them with smoke and cinders. The prices of food and dynamite dropped
to a fraction of their previous cost.
The first rails were laid by Colorado enthusiasts in the name
of the Colorado Central Railroad, but the Union Pacific soon took
over the tracks. The venture had proved very profitable in spite of
the rockslides that derailed the little engines and the gales that blew
off the track not infrequently in the open valley just below town.
Every train crew carried jacks and levers to set the rolling stock
back on the rails--much as modern motor cars carry jacks and spare
tires. The new owners noted the heavy output of ore at Silver Plume
only two miles upstream from Georgetown and were anxious to profit by
it. Within five years they had built a six mile stretch of track which
wound and twisted like a coil of rope to climb the precipitous gorge.
As the track crossed itself once over a high bridge and almost did so
again on the way up, the stretch gained the name of the Georgetown Loop.
It rapidly became celebrated as a tourist attraction. The trip was
thrilling. Pike's Peak, the Royal Gorge and the Georgetown Loop were
for about fifty years the best known tourist sensations of Colorado.
In summer as many as five trains a day carried visitors from Denver
to Georgetown and back. The little cars usually had roofs but no walls
or windows. On the uphill journey cinders showered into drifts on floors,
platforms and clothing. Train butchers peddled candy, bananas and
souvenirs. Two or three passengers usually were sea sick. Sometimes
the train stopped to quench a forest fire set by red hot cinders on
the canyon walls. Arriving at Silver Plume about noon the trains waited
while the visitors scrambled over the mine dumps in search of scraps of
glittering "fools gold," bought lemonade and ham sandwiches at fancy
prices or spread picnic baskets under the spruce trees. Some privileged
people were allowed now and then to coast back down the unbroken slope
to Golden on a handcar but most visitors hung to the seat arms on the
train and squealed a little as the cars swayed cinderless back down the
canyon. The whistle tooted. Echoes rose and died. Brakes heated red.
When the silver mines had given up the struggle to carry on, came
the advent of the automobile. Motor cars could not exhibit the canyon
but could show the Loop area, the great mines and the immense mountains
with speed and comfort. The railroad was abandoned. The high steel
bridge spanning the cascades by nearly a hundred feet was junked.
Finally the old railroad grade was converted into an automobile highway
beaded with tunnels. The canyon had surrendered after a century of
resistance to mankind.
Such was the Georgetown Loop, but this tells only part of its
history. The Loop area is a ravine scarcely two miles long, heavily
wooded, down which foams a big stream falling six hundred feet. A
recent glacial moraine or dam above and a more ancient one below frame
the little valley as seen from the mountains or from the interstate
highway traveling high on its flank. In the bottom of the trough are
some of the oldest silver mines in the West. Here deep tunnels driven
into the canyon walls may be the first underground workings for silver
undertaken west of the Alleghenies. While the first silver was found
on the mountain summits far above this valley, the ore there was mined
for many years only at the surface in open trenches on the bare peaks.
The Lebanon and Iris tunnels in the Loop gorge were started soon after
the silver excitement erupted and long before the mines which became
famous at Silver Plume or on South Clear Creek were more than prospect
holes. The ore in these tunnels was never exhausted and workings are
reputed to reach today into good ore. The tunnels seem caved only near
the surface. They could be opened for exhibit as the rock they penetrate
is reported firm and safe. The profit in mining silver is, however,
gone in the United States.
Scenically Georgetown is quite spectacular. It has for years
been a center for summer and weekend residents, especially doctors,
who have radiated from it on horse and jeep trips for fishing, hunting,
skiing, and climbing. North, south, east, and west, the village is
walled by snowy mountain ranges. Mount Evans, Mr. Bierstadt, Grays
and Torreys Peaks are only the highest of the turrets nearby. There
are a hundred more peaks to be seen within an hour's walk. Of the
celebrated Colorado mining camps, only Ouray is nestled in more theatrical
surroundings. Such treasure towns as Cripple Creek, Leadville, Central
City and Silverton seem to have chosen as already desolate or made
desolate the heights they occupy.
Hereabouts the early miners stripped the lowlands of timber
for tunnel props, lumber and fuel but extensive forests were too
high and distant for easy reach and so escaped the massacre. Groves
of evergreens are already marching down the cliff walls that were
divested of trees a hundred years ago by axmen. The hurricane winds
which appear so repeatedly in early regional history seemed to be
checked more every year by this new growth. It is cushioning the
cliffs. At least the surviving pioneers so testify.
The gold and silver deposits of the Colorado Rockies are markedly
confined to a strip or chevron which runs from northeast to southwest
across the State. The band begins south of Longs Peak and runs
through the mining camps of Boulder County, Gilpin County, Clear Creek,
Summit, Lake, Park, Chaffee, Gunnison and across the San Juan ranges
to fade away about the La Plata mountains. Of the great producing
areas only Cripple Creek, which rests in an ancient volcano, and some
lesser ore centers such as Aspen and the Rosita and Hahns Peak mines
are found outside this strip. The band is about twenty miles wide
and two hundred long. The belt is evidently the course of an ancient
earth movement or fault. It is ancient indeed, for the arrangement
of streams and ranges which prevails today gives little hint of such
The Georgetown Loop area lies in the center of this mineral belt,
but beyond the fact that the region is cut by one huge and unusual
glacial trough which runs about twenty miles from Mt. Bierstadt to
Empire and might suggest a stretch of rock tortured and fractured by
the pristine convulsion, and fact of the presence of unnumbered veins
of ore, the area tells us little or nothing of the existence of the
belt. The present forms of hills and valleys taken by the land are
young and almost wholly the product of moving ice and water. Indeed,
the area is dominated by the vast ice gouge just mentioned gnawed out
by an ice body that originated near Guanella Pass, left the many lakes
that gleam to its north, buried the site of Georgetown under a
thousand feet of frozen water and finally flowed across a mountain
where its visible scar is called Union or Empire Pass. It was a
mighty body of flowing ice enormous on any scale now exhibited in the
temperate zone. But one needs a practiced eye to recognize its traces.
This long ice flow and many later and smaller glaciers have
given the Loop terrain its characteristic appearance, making it
a region of rather wide, flat-bottomed valleys hedged in by cliffs
and sprinkled with beaver ponds and small lakes. The peaks usually
are cones or domes with a gash or cliff on their flank nearly always
on their north or northeast side. These holes suggest a crater to
the careless observer. They often hold a little round pond or two
cut in the solid rock high above the limit of tree growth. Indeed
the suggestion of volcanic action is so vivid that the name "crater lake"
is repeated all over the Rocky mountains. These gouges in the peaks
of the Rockies have nothing to do with vulcanism but are called glacial
cirques for they were gnawed into the mountains by snow and ice that
collected and lingered unmelted on the slope of mountains that was
sheltered from hot afternoon suns. Such ice bodies have a curious
way of gnawing back into the mountain that protects them from melting,
for almost daily alterations of thawing, freezing and cracking occur
at the upper edge of the glacier, chiseling off the rock.
This sculpture by moving ice is not seen everywhere in the
Rockies, but only in areas of very lofty peaks and snowy winters,
such as the Loop district. For example, the lower course of the
same stream, Clear Creek, whose waters in frozen form cut near
its source the wide valleys and cliffs just mentioned becomes
completely different. The water course runs from Idaho Springs
to Golden as a series of narrow v-shaped canyons with no trace of
glacial cutting. There are no lakes and no beavers.
In the Loop region the trough-like defiles not only encourage
beaver ponds by sheltering aspen groves on which the animals live
and so making easy their dam building, but the area contains many
heaps of rock left by retreating glaciers. These moraines, as they
are called, make lakes and cascades or even meadows. These last
attract deer and bighorn mountain sheep when heavy winter snows
make food hard to come by in the high altitudes. Wild bighorn sheep
are rather common in Georgetown in winter, grazing often almost as
low as the street ends and almost oblivious to roaring trucks and
motor cars. Deer are no novelty and even elk can be heard bellowing
on still autumn evenings. Their predators, such as mountain lions,
are not unknown.
In short, the great variety of exposures which glacial valleys
tend to produce with their typical display of woods, water and little
parks leads to a medley of plants and birds which has been part of
the scenic attraction since the early fur hunters choose here to pitch
their camps. The earliest permanent hunter's lodge in the central
Rockies of which we have any knowledge was built in the neighborhood
about 1830 and was found near Georgetown still standing when the gold
seekers arrived a generation later to build their own huts.
There is a small library on the Georgetown Loop region from
which most of the foregoing account is gathered. On the history
of Georgetown and its satellite villages the substantial volume
Silvertown by John W. Horner (Daldwell, Idaho, 1950) is a compilation
of newspaper clippings which are the raw material of the chronicle,
almost unarranged or unrefined. There are several good booklets by
Draper who made a serious graduate study of the area; for example,
Georgetown by Benjamin P. Draper, (Georgetown, 1940) and Georgetown
Pictorial by the same author (Denver, 1964). The standard early
Colorado histories known as History of Colorado by Frank Hall (4 volumes,
Chicago, 1889, 1895, 1897) and History of Clear Creek and Boulder Valleys,
edited by Baskin (Chicago, 1880), are material gathered from contemporary
sources and quite reliable. The Hotel de Paris is recounted in
A Fragment of Old France, a booklet published by the State Historical
Society of Colorado (Denver, 1954) and also in The Hotel de Paris by
Gene M. Gressley (Denver, 1955). The mining history to 1905 with geology
and geography, is thoroughly recorded in the massive monograph,
Georgetown Quadrangle by Spurr and Garrey (Washington, U.S. Geological
Survey, 1908). The history of the railroad and Loop is recited in
dozens of books of which the noted Denver, South Park and Pacific
by M. C. Poor (2 volumes, Denver, 1949, 1959) is convenient and
authoritative. One of many railroad issues is called A Day in the
Canyons of the Rockies and More Particularly Clear Creek Canyon, the
Loop (Union Pacific Denver and Gulf Railway, 4th ed. Denver, 1897).
There are fine photographs in Draper, Poor and Spurr, and drawings in
Stampede to Timberline by Muriel S. Wolle (Boulder, 1949).
A Background Study
General Plan Proposals
August 16, 1972
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Back ground Page
The Setting 2
The History 3
Land Use Summary
Land Division and Ownership 5
Present Land Use 6
Soil and Floodplain Information 9
The General Plan 11
The Land Use element
Open Space 15
Local Streets 15
Phases of Development
Phase I 16
Phase II 17
Phase III 17
Phase IV 18
Cover-proposed neighborhood service center.
Recent developments,in particular the construction of
1-70 and future plans for reconstructing the "Loop"*
train,have pointed up the need for a long-range,com-
prehensive,general plan for Silver Plume..
The General Plan,when adopted,will provide a guide for
the physical development of Silver Plume. It will
reflect the aspirations of the citizens in the form of
land use plans and policy statements. The Plan will
show the desirable relationships of the various residen-
tial densities,commercial areas and public facilities.
Based on such a plan,home owners,private land developers,
and governmental agencies will be able to make long range
decisions about the use of land with a greater degree
Local citizen participation in plan formulation is es-
sential. At present the only governing body is the
town council which consists of four to six members.
Currently,this group meets the first Tuesday of every
*The "Loop"-a train,initially used for freight purposes,
running from Georgetown to Graymont (1882-
1938). After proving unsuccessful for freight
it was used for..tourism,this also proved
unsuccessful. The "Loop" was considered an
engineering feat,rising to 1,000' in ele-
vation in slightly over one mile.
The State Historical Society,within the
next five or six years,intends to reconstruct
that part of the "Loop" which ran from George-
town to Silver Plume,for tourism purposes,
The town of Silver Plume is cradled in a narrow valley
situated approximately 50 miles northwest of Denver on
1-70. To the north is Republican Mountain,rising above
12,386 feet and to the south is Leavenworth Mountain
rising to 10,300 feet. Approximately 2 miles to the
northeast lies the revitalized historic Georgetown,while
to the northwest lies the small town of Bakersville.
In spite of its proximity to Denver,Silver Plume has
(in the past) enjoyed a rather isolated status,and has
therefore been able to retain its small residential com-
munity qualities. However,I-70 has reduced this degree
of seclusion and will continue to have further effects
on Silver Plume.
Towns such as Idaho Springs and Georgetown have already
felt the influence of 1-70 and have been subjected to
development in the form of commercialism and tourism.
As towns such as these carry out additional development
plans,Silver Plume will be subjected to a similar de-
gree of development pressure. Any future population
growth caused by this development will have to occur most-
ly through the subdivision of vacant land,due to the
topography of the area.
Silver Plume,although unique in many ways,cannot be view-
ed independently of the surrounding area. Most of the
residents go into Idaho Springs for specific shopping
items or into Denver for general commercial goods;for
evening entertainment,residents are content to go to
Georgetown,Central City or Denver. As far as employment
is concerned,many work in the Denver area,while others
are employed by Loveland Ski Area or the Highway Depart-
The convenience of the nearby towns of Georgetown,Idaho
Springs,and Denver,together with the expressed desires
of Silver Plume residents,leads me to believe that Sil-
ver Plume,with the aid of a General Land Use Plan,will
remain primarily a residential-bedroom community.
Silver Plume,in the latter part of the 1880's,was a suc-
cessful mining community located along Clear Creek. By
1875 the population had reached 2,000 and in 1880 the
town was incorporated. At this time the town had a di-
versified business community;grocery and clothing stores,
Chinese laundries,concentrating mills,and numerous saloons,
to mention a few. Other facilities included two churches,
Methodist and Catholio,an opera house,bandstand and post
Despite such setbacks as the fire of 1884 which destroyed
many houses and businesses along Main Street,the town
showed continued growth until the mining scare of the early
In addition to the natural mineral wealth of the mountains,
contributin- factors toSilver Plume's growth included the
presence ol natural water resources and transportation
routes. The primary mode of transportation between 1860
and 1880 was a stagecoach line linking Silver Plume to
Denver. During the 1880's the famous Georgetown Loop,
a railroad connecting Georgetown,Silver Plume,and Gray-
mont was constructed. By 1906 additional railroad service
(the Argentine Railroad)connected Silver Plume with Mt.
The town's recreational facilities and points of interest
included such things as the Sunrise Peak Aerial Tramway
(1907-1914),Pavilion Point Convalescent Resort at Leav-
enworth Mountain,the Clifford Griffin Monument above the
Seven-Thirty IMine,and the town's historiic cemetery.
Concurrent with the decline of mining,Silver Plume saw a
decline of population,near eradication of recreational
facilities,leaving only the historical monuments.
1. To maintain the residential character of the com-
2. To minimize tourism and outside vehicular traffic.
3. To preserve the cemetery.
4. To preserve hiking trails.
5. To preserve historical points of interest.
6. To preserve and enhance the natural and man-made
scenic beauty of the community.
THE LAND USE ELEMENT
In accordance with the goal of preserving and enhancing
the residential character of the community, the Plan sug-
gests that nearly 20.2 acres or about 18% of the land be
designated for residential use. Presently, about 12.4%
of Silver Plume is so developed. The Plan suggests a
range of densities from medium to low, with the medium
density areas generally surrounding the commercial areas,
while the lower densities generally occur in areas of
steeper slope, reflecting the more rugged topography.
Suggested use of the residential areas shall be; single-
family in the low density areas and single and multi-
family use in the medium density areas. Further use and
development of mobile home or trailer living units shall
not occur within the residential boundaries.
The Plan discourages dsve3opment of the area lying south
of I-70 at the extreme western end of Silver Plume due to
costs involved in extending utility service to this area.
Commercial activity is now very limited in Silver Plume.
Due to the expressed desires of the residents it is re-
commended that commercial activity remain somewhat limited
and be confined to the area bounded by Woodward Avenue to
the east, the south side of Clear Creek and the 1-70 right-
of-way, as it would be undesirable to permit linear com-
mercial expansion to occur along U.S. 6. This area is
desirable for commercial activity due to its relationship
with the 1-70 interchange. It is felt that the location
of this area, which will offer general and highway related
commercial needs, will offer general and highway related
commercial needs, will deter highway traffic from entering
into the residential districts of Silver Plume. Suggested
commercial uses in this area are; drugstore, market, sport-
ing goods store, gift-novelty shop, small hotel-motel.
In order to achieve an orderly transition from existing land
uses to some type of commercial activity, the area will re-
quire special design treatment. It is suggested that the
shops be arranged around a series of open spaces, rather than
taking on a linear form, in keeping with the open country
side atmosphere of Silver Plume.
The Plan also proposes that the old store buildings still
remaining on Main Street be restored wherever possible and
utilized as neighborhood facilities. This could include
such things as a laundromat, fire station, community re-
creation center, or craft studios.
A small portion of land on the south side of 1-70 has been
designated for another type of commercial use. This would
be for train related activities and might include such fac-
ilities as a small waiting station, restrooms, train main-
tenance services or tourist shops. If facilities of this
nature are provided within the immediate vicinity of the
train station, tourist traffic can be isolated from the re-
sidential area of the town.
About 7% of the platted land in Silver Plume is presently
vacant. It is expected that all privately owned vacant
land will at some point be developed to an economically
useful purpose. It is, therefore, impractical to include
all privately owned vacant properties in an inventory for
open space for the community.
29% of the above mentioned vacant land is owned by the town
of Silver Plume. Preservation of this open space is recom-
The General Plan proposes that this land, as well as other
land, be utilized as parks and open spaces. These areas are
intended to act as visual barriers from-various elements (e.g.
the train, 1-70, and the sewage treatment plant), to aid in
transition from one type of land use to another, and to pro-
vide open space for recreational purposes for the residents
of Silver Plumi. The parks and open spaces are linked by
means of a greenway along Clear Creek which acts as a strong
physical element to tie the different areas of town together.
On a purely arithmetic basis, the General Plan provides a
range of saturation population from a low of 160 to a high
of 556, based on 1970 census information. Factors which tend
to limit population growth are topography and the character
that the community exhibits as a result of past growth patterns.
The local street network is intended to provide vehicular
and pedestrian access to individual lots and to provide cir-
culation within neighborhoods. Through traffic on these
streets is discouraged.
PHASES OF DEVELOPMENT
It is suggested that the concepts of the General Plan be
implemented in the following manner in an effort to guide
the growth and development of Silver Plume.
Phase I 2 years
1. Limit traffic through Silver Plume by making access-
ibility to the town center more difficult:
--Close Main Street between Silver and Daily Streets.
2. Acquire land for sewage treatment plant and adjacent
land for park-buffer.
3. Begin to guard against the negative effects the restor-
ation of the "Lo.," will have:
-Acquire land on south side of 1-70, north of Moun-
tain Street for park and open space to act as a buffer.
-Use town owned land south of Paul Street for park space.
4. Control residential development:
-Retain prime areas currently in residential use located
on the south side of Madison Avenue between Silver and
-Encourage development of the areas lying north of Main
-Continue use of land south of 1-70 for residential pur-
Phase II 2 years
1. Continue to guard against tourist traffic created by
the restoration of the Georgetown Loop:
-Gain control of land surrounding the train area in
order to oversee development of such.
2. Control the expected rapid residential growth com-
menoerate with the Olympics and the Bi-Centennial events:
-As growth develops east of Woodward Avenue, initiate
development and control of neighborhood services.
-Continue to buffer neighborhoods with open space and
-Begin to protect U.S.6 residential area from commer-
cial areas and traffic with landscaping.
3. Continue to close off streets to discourage traffic:
-Deadend Madison Avenue into Charles Street.
-Close off Silver Street as a through street from
Willis to Main Street.
-Turn Burleigh Street into trail, limiting access from the
west end of U.S. 6 to the center of Silver Plume.
Phase III 2 years
1. Continue direction and control of residential growth:
-Due to added growth, initiate development of a general
-Support business activity with surrounding medium
density residential growth.
2. Integrate neighborhoods with parks and greenways:
-Utilize town owned South Street property as a park
to be linked with greenway adjoining the cemetery.
-Preserve/old jail, surrounded by open space.
3. To alleviate problems of growth, start phasing in camp-
groiuds west of town.
4. Landscape highway right-of-way area (south of general
business district) to create foreground for the moun-
Phase IV 2 years
1. Complete phasing of campground.
2. Restore Burleigh Mine as a historical point of interest:
-Maintain surrounding area as open space.
-Construct a contoured park ground from existing mine
tailings, to act as a buffer and transition element.
3. Unite museum and present park with open space to provide
recreation facilities for pedestrian traffic and for
2.5 Narrow Gauge to Central and Silver Plume
This publication, which contains the best concise history of
the Georgetown Loop (see especially pages 72-87) is being
sent under separate cover directly from the publisher.
GEORGETOWN LOOP RAILROAD OWNERSHIP HISTORY
Georgetown, Breckenridge and Leadville RR
Chartered February 23, 1881
Road opened to Graymount June, 1884
Built "in the interest" of the Union Pacific, which
owned stock and bonds.
Line was an extension of Colorado Central tracks,
which was also controlled by U. P.
Union Pacific, Denver and Gulf RR
Formed April 1, 1890 by consolidation of several roads,
among which were the Colorado Central and Georgetown,
Breckenridge and Leadville.
Colorado and Southern RR
Chartered December 20, 1998, as successor to Union
Pacific Denver and Gulf and Denver, Leadville and
Gunnison, whose properties were sold under fore-
closure November 19, 1898.
Sale confirmed on November 21, 1898, new company took
possession January 11, 1899.
Control of the Colorado and Southern Railroad was
acquired by the Burlington in 1908.
Rails were removed in 1939.
A BRTF ITISTORY OF TTV' tvorP-IT-.N SPIRAL RAILROAD
Tho fnmour; "Goorgot.on Loop"
Feb, 23, 1881: The Georgotown, Brockonridge and Loadville Railway was organized
by Union Pacific Railroad interests (Cyrus W. Fisher, First President; Sidnoy
Dillon, Second President), to build what became known as the Highline Railroad -
an extension of their Colorado Central 35 mile narrow gauge line from Golden
to Georgetown, constructed from 1972 1877.
The credit for laying out the serpentine route from Georgetown
to Silver Plume belongs to Robert Blickensderfer, Chief Engineer of the Union
Pacific/.bert B. Stanton of the Union Pacific was Chief Engineer for the
Highline, and under him Frank A. Maxwell was responsible for the field ongineer-
ing. E. J. Milner was Locating and Construction Engineer, and Chester W. Collins
was General Contractor for the railroad extension readingg and minor bridge
work were completed during 1881 1883.
The most famous feature of this line was the Devil's Gate Viaduct,
on what is now known as the Georgetown Loop. Masonry piers for this structure
were completed October 4, 1883.
The Phoenix Bridge Company, Phoenixville, Pennsylvania, contracted
to furnish the iron for the span and to erect it. The first car of iron reached
Georgetown on October 5, 1883, and ten days later the first column was erected.
November 25, 1883: The great bridge was completed, or was it? Owing to defective
riveting, and to the fact that the bridge columns placed on the North end of
the structure should have been located on the South end, Chief Engineer Stanton
would not accept it. After extensive rebuilding for an additional two months,
Stanton finally accepted the structure
Jan. 29, 1884: Construction forces started laying rails on the high bridge, and
on Fob. 28 a locomotive crossed it for the first time.
gar, 8. 1884: Rails reached the city limits of Silver Plume.
Mar. 12, 1884: The Highline bridge over Devil's Gate was tested successfully
by tho running of trains, and on Mar 31, the first regular passenger train
operated over the Highline to Silver Plume, it being the scheduled night
train from Denver.
April 2, 1884: Union Pacific officials spent tho day with famed inari railroad
photographer William H. Jackson of Denver taking pictures of the high bridge
and surroundings. One interesting view showed four trains on the line, all
bound for Silver Plume, but with headlights pointed North, East, South and
Engineering Data on Devil's Gate Bridge:
ref. Poor's "Denver, South Park & Pacifio"
Radius of curve across bridge 311.0 ft.
Degree of curvature on bridge proper 180 30'.
Top of bridge above sea level 8,715,0 ft.
Elevation lower tracks above sea level 8,640.4 ft.
/Distance between tracks at crossing point 74.6 ft.
I Height of track on top of bridge above Clear Creek channel 95.6 ft.
Height of lower track above Clear Crook channel 21.0 ft.
Length of Loop track between point of crossing 3,812.0 ft.
Weight of rail on bridge 40 Ibs. (per yard); 50 lb. rail laid in 1905,
Grade of track directly over bridge 2.0%.
J Length of bridge 300.0 ft.
Spans: 38 ft. iron ~late girders 8.
60 ft. iron lattice girders 1.
Weight of iron spans: 157,482.0 lbs.
Granite masonry in piers and abuteionts 735 cu. yds.
Timber in bridge dock, including ties 36.136 M.B.F.
I Note: in 1921, 42,000 lbs of stool bracing was added to the bridge. At the
same time the weight of rail on the bridge was increased to 75 Ibs.
Othoe data about the railroad:
oii\ technical terms, tho Gcorgotown "Loop" can be described as a "Spiral",
and goomotrically speaking, as a "Holix".
In 1884, the rails wore oxtondod 4 miles West of Silver Plume to Graymont,
now called Bakorvillo. The "Georgetown, Breckenridge and Leadvillo", however,
never crossed the Continontal Divide.
Total construction cost from Gcorgetown to Graymont (8.47 miles) was reported
as $432,598 ($51,074 per mile), but of course the per mile cost botweon
Georgetown and Silver Plume (4.47 miles) was considerably higher. $225,000
of the total cost was consumed in grading and masonry. Tho 3 ft. narrow gauge
ran on a plain dirt roadbed, with codar ties and 40 lb. rail, the rail weight
on Devil Gate's bridge being increased in later years to 50 lbs., and, finally,
to 75 lbs.
The Colorado Central Railroad, owned by the Union Pacific, furnished freight
and passenger rolling stock to the "Georgetown Loop" line. In addition to
hauling ores and supplies for mines in the area, regular passenger service
and many excursion trains operated from Denver to Georgetown and Silver Plume
(54 miles). In 1884, for example, over 21,000 passengers rode on the line.
During the years following, as many as seven passenger trains per day operated.
Running time from Georgetown to Silver Plume was 25 minutes, with a 350 fare.
Railroad distance 4.47 miles; straight line distance li miles .,
Elevations: Silver Plume 9,114 ft.
Georgetown 8,476 ft.
638 ft. diffoaonoo in elevation, or an
average railroad grade of 143 ft. per mile.
Railroad Curves: 14 of them had a curvature of 180 or more, including
a 30 curve on the "Big Fill", West of the Loop area (191 ft. of radius 75 ft.
Railroad Grado;: 9 sections had grades of 3.5% or more,
including a 4.13/ grado on the "Dig Fill". Steepest grade was 4.20%
near milepost t50, at tho Wost end of Georgetown.
< An April 1, 1890, the Uoorgotown, Brockonridge and Leadville" was
merged into the Union Pacific Denver and Gulf Railway Co.
During 1897 1898, title to the railroad and Loop bridge passed to
the present Colorado and Southern Railway, control of which was acquired
by the Durlington in 1908.
Traffic on the Georgetown line continued for many years, with losses
incurred. Pomission for abandonment was sought for 15 years, and rails
finally wore removed in 1939. The bridge on the Loop was sold in place
to tho Silver Flumo Mine and Mill Co., reportedly for $450, for use in
constructing mining trestles. It had been in service for 55 years. The
Georgetown depot, site of the present Alpine Inat s said to have been sold
Reference is made to interesting material and photographs aboutthis
historic railroad, located at the State Historical Society, Denver, and also
at the Railroad Museum, on W. 44th Avenue just East of Golden, Colorado.
Particularly noteworthy is material contained in Mac Poor's book "Denver.
South Park & Paoific".
T. E. Taplin
ARCHAEOLOGICAL EXCAVATIONS AT GEORGETOWN, COLORADO
THE LEBANON SILVER MINE AND MILL SITE
Jack E. Miller
The Georgetown-Silver Plume region is one of the oldest
mining districts in the state. Gold veins in this area were first
worked in 1859 according to newspaper reports from that period of
Among the first gold-seekers who arrived in the area were
George F. and David T. Griffith. In August, 1959, the Griffith
brothers discovered a promising outcrop of surface quartz along
Clear Creek. It is reported that they sluiced out a hundred dollars
worth of dust in two days. They called their discovery the "Griffith
District. Later a town was plotted on the site and was called
"Georgetown" in honor of George Griffith.
Located in the valley between Georgetown and Silver Plume is
Republican Mountain. This is the heart of the Georgetown Loop
Historic Mining Area. Some of the most important mines in the
area are located on Republican Mountain and among these is the
The early history of the Lebanon Mine and Mill site has been
obtained largely from early newspaper sources such as the Daily
Colorado Miner, the Colorado Miner, the Georgetown Courier, and
the Rocky Mountain News; verbal accounts such as those supplied by
Mr. George Rowe of Silver Plume, Colorado or from old Mining
records such as those supplied by the Government Printing Office in
Washington (1873). Obtaining information from these sources is both
difficult and time consuming, but scarcity of written material dictates
this research approach. One of the most prominent figures asso-
ciated with these early discoveries was John T. Harris. He was a
native of Kentucky who came to Colorado in 1859. In early 1865 he
made the first discoveries of silver-bearing lodes on Republican
Mountain. These lodes were later sold to the Lebanon Mining
Company of New York. Aaron Frost, in his work titled, The History
of Clear Creek (1880:282), states that the majority of the Lebanon
Company's properties were discovered in 1865 and their develop-
ment was commenced at once. Harris remained active in the area
and continued to be very successful in mining activities. In spite of
his early successes he let his fortune slip through his fingers. At
the time of his death he exhibited few characteristics which would
indicate his early success.
The Colorado Miner, June 9, 1877, describes the property as
being approximately five acres in area and as being situated on
Republican Mountain. The "Everett Tunnel" was also operated
during the late 1860's. The "Lebanon Tunnel" was driven into the
mountain in a northerly direction a distance of 800 feet. It was
supplied with a good T-rail tramway and cars, with side tracks for
the veins which drifted away from the main tunnel. The work was
directed by Dr. J. G. Pohle, Manager of the Lebanon Mining
The entire property was reported as being in good condition.
The Colorado Miner article goes on to state that good tracks and
timbering characterized the site. The following description later
proved to be very important in excavating the site. On the east side
of the entrance to the Lebanon Tunnel there is a comfortable black-
smith shop and on the west side there is a snug little cottage for the
accommodation of the miners. By this date the tunnel had cut through
eight lodes. First class silver ore was running 900 ounces per ton
while second class ore was running about 200 ounces per ton.
Production continued and the Lebanon properties continued to
meet with great success for the next few years. The Rocky Mountain
News for January 9, 1882 reported a rich strike at the Lebanon
Tunnel. The lode was encountered at a distance of between ten and
eleven hundred feet from the mouth of the tunnel and at a depth of
about six hundred feet. In 1885 operations seemed to slaken and pro-
duction decreased until the mine was closed. It remained idle for
nineteen years before it was reopened briefly, after the turn of the
An important addition to the mining site was a mill which was
built during 1871. An article in the Daily Colorado Miner for
September 14, 1872 stated that this establishment was built by the
Lebanon Company with the goal of concentrating the low grade ores
from their own mine. The mill was situated on Clear Creek and had
good wagon roads leading to it from all the principal mines on
Leavenworth, Republican and Sherman Mountains. The article
described the mill's dimensions as being 30x60 feet and was being
operated at the time as an ore-buying concern.
The mill had a large receiving room, from which the ore
passed into a powerful jaw crusher. It was then carried by an
elevator to the upper story where it was sampled. The crushed ore
was then deposited by the elevator into a hopper, two feet wide and
shaped like an inverted cone. From here it was regulated to pass
into another hopper which in turn dropped it through a spout onto the
floor of the sacking room. The Daily Colorado Miner for September
14, 1872 quotes Dr. J. G. Pohle's description of the mill as "having
a superior crusher with rolls attached. It is enabled to do fine
crushing and insure correct sampling. Terms for crushing and
sacking are as low as anywhere else. "
The continuing physical evolution of the mill is evidenced by
later articles in the area newspaper. By January 7, 1873, machinery
had been introduced into the Lebanon Mill for dressing ore. The
Daily Colorado Miner for that date depicted the burgeoning business
of the Mill. There are not teams enough in town to convey down the
ore that the mines are turning out Dr. Pohle has more in stock
than he can send off and in fact all purchasers are finding it
hard work to keep their floors clear of the ore that is daily coming
down from the mountains. This is the first time we believe, that this
state of things has occurred, and we hope that it will be remedied
before long. More teams are wanted. Let every man in the country,
who has a spare wagon, come up this way and he can find plenty of
hauling to do.
Additional work on the mill was documented by the Daily
Colorado Miner for January 3, 1874, "Dr. Pohle has placed an
engine and boiler in the Lebanon Company's concentrating works; it
is rearranging the screens and machinery, and will in a few days
commence running upon a large lot of concentrating which he now
has in the mill. "
The mill had a unique power generator, a horizontal water
wheel (see Figure 4) which was completely submerged and fed by a
flume. Clear Creek which runs parallel to the mill provided water
to turn the wheel. It was said to have been very efficient. It was
believed that portions of the wheel were still buried under silt at the
mill site and such was indeed the case.
In 1884, the Georgetown Loop was constructed to extend rail
service to Silver Plume. The railroad traced a winding, steep, four-
and-a-half-mile path over the mile-and-a-half distance between the
two towns. The railroad served the region for fifty-five years, but
declining revenues forced abandonment of the line. It was torn up
and the famous "high bridge" across Clear Creek was dismantled in
1939. The massive stone abutments of the Loop still remain.
The Lebanon Mine was reopened shortly after the turn of the
century and was operated into the 1940's. During this time the
physical appearance of the site was greatly altered and the mine
changed ownership several times. A photograph from the library of
the State Historical Society of Colorado portrays the mill and mine
site as it looked around the turn of the century (see Figure 1). Most
of the buildings mentioned in the early newspaper accounts can be
seen. The photograph also reveals the location of three buildings
that were not mentioned in any of the historical accounts reviewed.
At present the only building left on the site is part of the mill. The
rest of the site had fallen into complete ruin.
FrIE LD RECraO?: iCE. PLL I R
C LOOP "" "'
r IN[ /'30 ;,FL RA >
...p 5TT UI.ES"T
Y V, T D 'u/'rLR t'
LO* AD SE 3. ILDIG
LocA1IO l AND SIZE OP 3RD BUILDING
Sm, I_' t
2 ND BUILDING
fo_ .; ;
GEORGETOWN HISTORIC LOOP
fI'IE AND /11LL AREA
COLORADO STATE UNIVERSITY
EXCAVATED S SUkITER 1970
FIELD DIRECTOR:J'K E. MILLER
a- RAILROAD TIE
Economic Geology of the Georgetown Quadrangle
(Together with the Empire District)
By Josiah E. Spurr and George H. Garrey
with General Geology by Sydney H. Ball
Washington: Government Printing Office 1908
STATE HISTORICAL SOCIETY OF COLORADO
STATE MUSEUM BLDG.
14TH AVENUE & SHERMAN STREET
DENVER, COLORADO 80203
214 GEOLOGY OF TIE GEORGETOWN QUADRANGLE, COLORADO.
between two of these porphyry dikes. Tie probably explanation for this occurrence of tioe ore
is that the porphyry became relatively impervious to waters on account of decomposition,
and thus the mineralizing solutions, circulating along the vein fissures, became confined
mainly to the portion between tle (likes.
LEBANON GROUP OF LODES.
The name Lebanon is applied to a group of lodes of medium importance lying on the slopes
of Republican Mountain, in the eastern part of the area shown on the Silver Plume special
map (PI. XXI). This group consists of a network of branching and probably to some extent
crossing lodes, which run in a general northeasterly or easterly direction. The two principal
lodes of this group are the Morning Star and the Alhambra, of which the former, as already
noted, may be the extension of the Dunkirk, although there is an undeveloped section lying
between the Dunkirk workings and tihe Lebanon mines (P1. XXXV). The Alhambra is a
branch of the Morning Star. These lodes subdivide and branch, most of the branches opening out
to the cast, but some to tile west. Some of these branches, particularly those which open out to
the west, are strong and persistent, and indicate a distinct set of northwestward-trending fracture
zones traversing the main northeast minor faults and being deflected by them in many places
at the junction, rather than actual branches of the northeast fissures. Undoubted branches,
however, are common. A distinct feature of this group of lodes, differing from the group com-
prising the Pelican, Seven-Thirty, Pay Rock, etc., is that the intersections are as .a rule well
marked and notably enriched. In some place, as at the junction of the Alliambra and lode
No. 9 of the Lebanon tunnel, both of the uniting veins and also the trunk vein are mineralized
at the junction. In other places, as at the junction of the Morning Star lode and the No. 4'
lode in the Lebanon tunnel, only the stronger vein is mineralized, the weaker branch being
(CIAIL.ACTE'I.ISTICS OF1' OROUP.
Mineralogically I ne lodes of this group are characterized by the presence of a certain amount
of chalcopyrite, which distinguishes thorn from tie lodes of the Pelican-Seven-Thirty-Pay Rock
group, to which they are otherwise mineralogically similar. The outcrops therefore show in
many places azurito with some malachite. Structurally the veins resemble those of the Pelican
group, being replacements along fault zones of slight throw, but thoro is somewhat moro fissure
filling in the Republican Mountain group.
It is reported that surface work on this group of lodes was begun in 1868-69. The most
extensive and the lowest workings are those in the Everdtt and Lebanon tunnels. The Lebanon
tunnel is 1,082 feet long from mouth to breast and was begun in 1870. The production of this
tunnel is estimated by minors at $500,000.
MORNING STAR LODE.
The Morning Star lode is well marked on tlhe surface, but, like all the veins of this group,
continually splits and branches in various directions, making the identification of a single main
vein difficult. This lode is traceable on the surface for over 2,000 feet. At the east edge of
the Silver Plume special area it is called the East Peru lode; on the west it unites. with the
Alliambra lode. 'lhe intersection of these two lodes dips to the east with increasing depth,
so that where encountered in the Everett tunnel it is several hundred feet farther east than
at tihe surface.
The Morning Star lodo is shown in both the Everett and Lebanon tunnels (fig. 56). In
the Lebanon the veins are currently designated by numbers running from 1 to 10, No. 5 being
0 200 4o00 600 8s0o feet
MINES I OF Till'; SlI 'I.V I ITiU'M ; IiST IC'r.
undoubtedly te I Mornimii Star and No. 4 a brIanch. In fhis tIiunnel it, is plini than.l Ih lodrI
channel was due to fIllillinl., as is shown by the discordmnl, walls. The vein here forks rcpnat,-
cdly, the hranclhs di\ver~i; ho; h tio l lhe cnsl amnd to the w(esl, from tli trunk. The country
rock is gniis.s, having a noirllhansrly trend, so that., tle vein crosses i l, atn. angle of 4'50. The
dip of tlhe vein is to ihe north nl. angles running from 500 to 65. At the intersection of branch
No. 4 (which itself is an unminiralized slip) witi the iniin lend nn ore body has been found,
extending both wn.ys on lie main vein, but farther toward the east, considerable ore having
been sloped for nearly 200 feet, in that direction. Beyond this point the vein splits into several
branches or slips in the gneiss.
FIo. 66.-Geological plan of Lebanon and Everett tunnel workings.
RELATION TO I'ORPIIYRITIC (RIANITE DIKES.
The strongest portion of the Morning Star vein in this tunnel, between the points where
branching is common, runs along a dike of highly porphyritiec granite (th corn rock of the
miners). This dike is in gneiss and is only a few fort, wide, being too small to bo shown in the
geologic plan of the tunnel. Tli lead lies in some places on top of this like, in others on
the bottom, and in still others it cuts through the dike. This rock is considered by the miners
a favorable formation for a strong vein. Evidently it plays the same rOle in deflecting and
localizing the fault slips as do the porphyry dikes. Therefore along the contact of the por-
phyritic granite dikes, which are definite lines of thickness, an unbroken and relatively strong
lode is apt to run.
GEOLOGY 01F T'IE GEOIGETOWN QUADIANGLE, COLORADO.
The Evcrett lodo appears to be a branch of the Alhambra. The junction of the two, as
nearly as can be found out, lies at the surface at the Alhambra discovery shaft. Hero a body
of ore was worked down for some distance. The location of the junction of these lodes under-
ground is not certainly known, but from information obtained it is probable that the Everett,
dipping more flatly than the Alhanibra, joins the latter at a point on the line of the Everett
tunnel about halfway from the surface to the tunnel level. Therefore the Everett lode is pot
encountered in the Lebanon and Everett tunnels.
Tie Alhambra lode and its branches are traceable on the surface for about 2,200 feet. It
runs in a northeasterly direction and the dip as seen in the Lebanon tunnel is about 600 N.
In this tunnel the slickensided fault faces of the lead exhibit strong striwt dipping 100 to 120
E., indicating a nearly horizontal differential movement.
LOCUS AND CIIAtACTER OF ORE.
The most ore along the vein is found at its junction, in the Lebanon tunnel and above, with
the No. 9 vein of the Lebanon tunnel, which is perhaps the Peru lode. Here there is a big stop
going up 100 feet above the tunnel and representing the largest and richest ore body in the
mine. This ore was richest at the junction of the two veins, but extended a short distance
along both and a short distance also on the trunk vein beyoiid the intersection. This ore
contained argentiferous tetrahedrite and ran 100 to 125 ounces of silver. At the time of the
examination of the mine in 1904 the last unsorted shipment of the lessees was reported as
yielding 26 per cent zinc and 19 per cent lead. The last sorted shipment ran 26 per cent lead,
14 per cent zinc, 42 ounces silver, and 0.1 ounce of gold. A large part of the vein material is
coarsely crystallized brown blende, which is never shipped, as it carries less than 30 ounces
of silver to the ton and some of it runs as low as 6 ounces. This blende makes up the greater
part of the vein material, so far as can be judged from what still remains in the stores. Galena
is abundant and chalcopyrito occurs here and there. The low-grade blende ores alternate
with parallel streaks of relatively high-grade lead and silver ores.
PARIAGENESIS OF ORES.
Examination of the ores indicates that the vein has been successively reopened and that
later deposition has occurred in the reopened fissures. The galena and chalcopyrite are closely
associated; the blende does not seem to be associated with chalcopyrite, though locally it is
with galena. A study of specimens indicates that at least some of the galena was precipitated
later than some of the blonde. The following succession of events is shown in places: (1) Open-
ing of a vein channel; (2) deposition of blende; (3) reopening; (4) deposition of galena; (5)
reopening; (6) deposition of native silver on the walls of vugs. Another specimen shows the
following order of deposition of minerals: (1) Quartz; (2) blende; (3) quartz; (4) siderite.
The minerals of the last two periods of deposition are in free crystals, coating cavities in the
blende. Tetrahedrite, as well as native silver, occurs coating cavities, and these minerals were
found in the Lebanon tunnel 400 or 500 feet below the surface.
On the surface the AlhamnIbl is ia strong vein, containing considerable galena, load, etc.,
for 500 feet or so east of the Allianbra discovery shaft.
NORTHEASTERN EXTENSION OF ALIIAMIIRA LODE.
The northeastern extension of the Alhambra is known as the Scott lode. From a min-
ing standpoint this has been of no great importance, but it is a strong lode showing solid sul-
phides in places several inches thick, consisting of galena, blonde, pyrite, and chalcopyrito. A
thin section of at portion of the vein shows quartz, pyrite, barite, and siderite, all intercrystal-
lized and contemporaneous. The lode lies in granitic gneiss and pogmatito, and is opened up
MIN.1';S OF Till ; SILVEi; I'LAUMI'; IKSTIiICT.
bya tmlunol drift for nearly 300 feet along Ithe vein. Nenr Ilo mouth of the Iunnel it makes a
junction with nn censI-west. lodl which is very likely il .the l inlirl.gh lodo.
The Scott lode as seen in this tunnel is somewhat, branching and splitting. A little ore
occurs here and l here.
About. 6i00 feet. northeast. of tle mouth of the Scott, tunnel anl 300 feet northeast of the
breast, of tllh lIuni el drift what is probably the san me lode is again exposed in a crosscut tunnel
running 100 feet, into the. hill. This shows an iron-stl.nined lead with no ore, although small
quantities of ore are found in the dump of a caved .unnel 100 feet, or so farther southwest.
The Peru lode lies on the extreme eastern edge of the area covered by the Silver Plume
special map. It has en east-west trend. As shown in the Iris tunnel, it is vertical and lies in
porphyritir granite. It is hero a strong, soft lead with much quartz, containing abundant
pyrite and snime galena, blonde, and chalco-
pyrite. Ono specimen shows a veinlet in I ,' -,' 'I/
r'lililte I inch in thickness, lhrc-fourths of
I / -) I/ -I_
little pyrite, whIil.e t(ie central parl. is blend-c
with a little pyrite (fig. 57). Barite is also .'I 0 l ':'Fi ,\ ,
present ns a gangue mineral. The metallic '
minerals occur embedded in solid vein quartz / \ ,, \ 1 / l i
and also as fissure fillings. TIhere is no sign i /I', '
here of nay considerable quantity of ore, \ ./. I
I/- \ /-
though the lend is well defined. The Peru / / -
tunnel, which lies just above the wagon road, -
is caved at its mouth, but the maps show '' I '
that it runs 260 feet into the mountain, cross- -_' ''I -
ing the East Peru (which is the extension of to",' ,. '-- t
the Morning Star) and the Peru lodes. The d a d
tunnel on the hill 50 feet above the Bell FI. 57.-Sketch showing successive deposits In fissure, Peru lode,
lri. tunnel, a, Comb qlinri~. with ocrnsinnnlly a grain of pyritc:
(PI X\ XV) 1run inl a drift on tle Peru ( de ,. /in. bhi l ile, will a lit lc pyrrite anl ilrcni: r, ope;TI cavily or
a llso I. 'I' l l e it cr t ulll l sI lOWed a fll rly strong v~' : dI,Silv'' rl'I," lgran ite,coiuntryrock. Three-fourtliani tural
lead in gneiss and porphyritic granite.
Farther west the Peru lode at its junction with the Alhambra is very likely represented by
No. 9 lode'in Lebanon tunnel. At this junction, as already noted, a large body of ore has
ELTAII IIISE LODE.
The location of the Elijah IIise lode seems to have been considerably in doubt in past
times, but as traced by the writers the lode runs on the surface from the Elijah IIise discovery
shaft in a northwesterly direction. The lode is strong near its junction with the Alhambra,
and shows some ore containing galena. Just northeast of the junction the united vein is stronger
than either of the uniting veins. The Elijah IIise lode is traceable for 400 feet northwest, and
with a break in the outcrops considerably farther. It is in general slightly or not at all min-
eralized, except as before stated, and appears of very minor importance. Both the Elijah
IIise lode and the Peru lode, though apparently branches of the Alhambra, belong to a set of
eastward or southeastward striking lodes which are so persistent that they appear to be rather
a set of crosscutting veins than true branches.
The Edinburgh lode is parallel with the Elijah IIise, and lies 400 or 500 feet farther north-
cast. It is traceable for 1,000 feet, and probably is continuous for 1,500 feet at least. It is
very likely the same lode as that which joins the Scott lodo in the Scott tunnel. At the junc-
tion with the Scott it is a strong lode showing 6 to 8 inches of quartz, with iron oxide and galena.
GEOLOGY OF THE GEORGETOWN QUADRANGLE, COLORADO.
Farther northwest, upll te hill, tho lodo is opened up by a tunnel drift 2,500 feet long on tl
Edinburgh vein and by a shorter tunnel 100 feet higher up the hill. These tunnels show
strong fracture zone, dipping 800 S. or nearly vertical, inl porplyritic granite. .At the brcas
of the tunnel the lode splits into two branches which open up to the west. A little ore wa
taken out of this tunnel, but from what can bo.secn the streak was probably small. One speci
mien taken shows a 1-inch fissure vein with bands of clear comb quartz and a filling of blende
fine-grained galena, and pyrite.
A lodo near United States mineral monument No. 10 is shown on the map as running
northeastward and crossing tie northwesterly extension of the Elijah IIise.. This lode affords
an interesting study in vein formation. It follows a fractured zone in granite. At the cross-
ing of this lode and the extension of the Elijah IIise there is a considerably silicified altered
zone in the granite, and veins iave formed containing abundant barite and calcite, with jasper
and a little comb quartz. The calcite and pyrite are intercrystallized and contemporaneous,
and in many places line cavities. There are no signs of any metallic minerals in the vein, so
that the color of the vein is similar to that of the granitic country rock. Therefore the contact
between tihe two is not plainly marked, and the coarseness of the barite and calcite crystals
give the vein at first glance the appearance of pegmatite. In places the barite and calcite
form only a veneer on the walls of the fissure. The barite here is rather more abundant than
has been observed anywhere else in the region, and its association with calcite and a little chal-
codonic quartz suggests derivation from the wall rock.
CHANGES IN VEIN-DEPOSITING WATERS.
In general in this Lebanon group of lodes it is plain that a given fissure was occupied at
different times by waters of different composition. The first deposit on the walls of a fissure is
very commonly a layer of pure quartz. The quartz may fill the whole vein, or the deposition
may be incomplete, leaving a cavity in the center; or, finally, the central part may be filled up
with other materials; including metallic minerals. These facts show that the waters which
formed the veins differed in separate fissures and at different times in the same fissure.
DEPOSITION FROM PRESENT UNDERROUIND WATERS.
In the Lebanon tunnel calcite is formed wherever water drips down, whether along a
lodo or not. Tho heaviest deposit of calcite, however, has formed whero the most abundant
surface water enters the miine-on the drift on the Allianibra vein in the Lebanon tunnel south-
west of the crosscut tunnel. Here the vein is marked by a strong mineralized lead in gneiss
and pegmatite. The waters that enter the drift have formed on the floor a crust of calcite
from 3 to 4 inches thick and on the walls a beautiful deposit resembling a frozen waterfall.
Much of the calcite of this wall deposit is 1 to 3 inches thick. From the roof fine stalactites,
upward of 6 inches long, have formed, and in the floor are pisolitic aggregates of calcite formed
by the deposition of the mineral around small rock fragments. Fine calcite crystals have also
formed on the walls. On the surface of pools of standing water in this drift a crust of calcite
gradually forms by evaporation of the water, attaining Ia thickness of a small fraction of an
inch. It then sinks to the bottom of the pool by its own weight, when a new crust begins to
form. Thus at the bottom of some pools a pile of these crusts several inches thick has accumu-
lated, and the different crusts are cemented together by calcite crystals. Much of the calcite
is stained with iron and manganese, and some of it with a little copper.
This drift in the Lebanun tunnel was begun in LSSO and closed in 1888. The portion
where the calcite is most abundant was probably opened up in 1881 or 1882. These deposits
have been accumulating, therefore, for not more than twenty-three years. According to this
the whole drift, 8 feet high, will be cemented solid with calcite in live or six hundred years.
GEOLOGY OF THE GE01ORGETOWN QUADRANGLE, COLORADO.
generally one of the last-formed minerals. Besides the typical or invariably lato-formed
minerals, all the older minerals, including( quartz, siderite, galena, blend, and pyrite, are
repeated in many places as later generations and are frequently found in close association
with the characteristically last-formed minerals.
ACTION 1OF 1'1PESE1'.NT UNDI)EIGROUND WATERS.
The upper surface of the vadoso underground waters generally stands close to the topo-
graphic surface in this region. At the time of the examination, in the summer season, water
was standing in many shafts at a depth of 50 or 0G feet below the surface, even on the mountain
tops. A study of the underground workings shows that these waters are most abundant near
the surface, occurring in considerable quantity there, but lessening with depth, so that in many
mines at depths of 500 to 1,000 feet the rocks become comparatively dry. However, along
strong fracture zones tlh surface waters p)enetrale munch deeper, probably to a depth of several
thousand feet. They have been encountered in places in the deepest workings. The relatively
dry deeper rocks, moreover, so far as seen, are not entirely without water, a good deal being
contained in their interstices.
The effects of ascending surface waters in altering rocks at some distance away from veins
have been observed at various depths from the surface. Wherever descending waters which
have passed through a few hundred feet of rock] (usually alkaline granite and granitic gniiss)
are encountered in the numerous tunnel workings tse waters are fond ths t ae od to have acquired a
surprising amount of calcite and iron oxide, which they precipitate when they come into contact
with thie air in the tunnels. A pipoe taken from the Colorado Central mine, which had been used
for conveying ordinary cold underground waters for twelve or thirteen years, was lined with a
deposit 0.4 inch thick, madeup of calcite with little iron and traces of manganese. (See PI. XX,A.)
The nmximum alteration takes place along water courses which follow along fracture zones,
and is not directly dependent on distance from the surface.
Granitic quartz gneiss, 600 feet below the surface in the Baltimore tunnel and not near any
vein, was found to contain fresh quartz, biotite, microcline, and orthoclase, with another feldspar
which has been completely altered to kaolin with some carbonates and which inferentially was a
soda feldspar. The effect of carbonated descending waters at this depth seems to have been a
solution of soda and some lime..
In the Lebanon tunnel, at adecpth of 700 feet, calcite is formed wherever water drips down.
The heaviest deposit is in a drift which has been open about twenty-three years. The water-)
have formed on the floor a crust of calcite from 3 to 4 inches thick, and a beautiful deposit on
the walls. From the roof depend fine stalactites upward of 6 inches long, and there are various
other calcareous formations. It has been estimated that' this whole drift, 8 feet high, would
be cemented solid with calcite in five hundred or six hundred years. The calcite is in many
places stained with iron and manganese, and locally with a little copper.
In the Silver Ore tunnel, at a depth of 800 to 900 feet, the granite is decomposed and disin-
tegrated along a zone where abundant water SI)ps through the rocks and accumulates in the
bottomii of the drifts. On the walls of the drift the waters have left soft stalactites of manganese
peroxide, and where the water forms pools on the floora plentiful surface scum of calcite is
Inl the Baltimore tunnel, at a depth of 1,100 feet, alaskite porphyry, which is nowhere near
any known vein, has suffered alteration from surface waters. The feldspars have been miinily
altered to kaolin, with a subordinate amount of quartz and scricito and a little pyrite. The
waters which accomplished tile alteration were evidently slightly sulphureted and have
abstracted the alkalies and linme from the rock. At the same locality is a dike of quartz
mlonzonito porphyry. In this rock tlhe biotito has been partly altered to secondary quartz,
calcite, andl siderite. Tlio principal feldspar, andesine, has been largely or entirely altered to
abtunldant carbonates of iron, lime, alnd lmagnesiumi, and to kaolin.
MOUNTAIN & PLAIN
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Perhaps the most beautiful and historic of all the
Colorado mining districts, and certainly the one that best
preserves the flavor of a bygone era, is the Georgetown-Silver
Plume region, which contains some of the oldest gold and
silver workings in the state. Today, much of the area is being
developed as a mining interpretive site, the Georgetown Loop
Historic Mining Area, by the State Historical Society.
When the first prospectors entered Clear Creek Valley
in 1859, they found a region of natural beauty that made
even the roughest miner wax poetic; one early prospector
thought it "as rural and peaceful a spot as the most devoted
lover of the picturesque could desire." Small wonder, then,
that sightseers soon began flocking to the area in numbers
that nearly matched the legion of miners who hoped to find
the mother lode.
By late 1877 the narrow-gauge tracks of the Colorado
Central had reached Georgetown, and the tourist trade became
big business. In 1884 the Georgetown Loop was constructed
to extend service to Silver Plume a few miles west of George-
town. Regular passenger trains ran from Denver to the two
towns, carrying picnickers and vacationers to the streams
and mountain lakes of the area. The Loop served the region
for fifty-five years, but declining revenues forced the aban-
donment of the line, and the bridge was dismantled in 1939.
The massive stone abutments of the Loop still remain almost
untouched, however, and most of the right-of-way is now
owned by the Society and other public agencies.
Aided by a recent grant from the Union Pacific Foun-
dation, the Society is currently working with the highway
department to preserve the site and is refining plans for the
development of a mining and railroad interpretive complex
in the valley. For example, the various methods of ore
Georgetown in the 1890's, looking north from the railroad
tracks which are visible in the foreground.
s.r rs COSa'-_.2r' -1yr -r 1.1
Four trains may be seen at various points on the Georgetown Loop
in this photograph taken by William H. Jackson.
recovery, such as the use of sluices, arrastras, and stamp
mills, will be demonstrated at the original locations. Other
projects include the resumption of work at the Lebanon
Tunnel, one of the oldest silver mining tunnels in the state,
to illustrate early mining techniques, and the restoration of
the narrow-gauge railroad line.
Designated a National Historic Landmark by the De-
partment of the Interior, the Georgetown-Silver Plume Mining
District is indeed rich in scenic and historic interest. Through
the development of the Georgetown Loop Historic Mining
Area, visitors who drive through Colorado on Interstate 70
will soon be able to step back in time and gain a comprehen-
sive understanding of life on Colorado's mining frontier.
Numerous mines dotted the slopes behind Silver Plume,
providing a picturesque setting for the thriving community.
- icAt! % 'm& 9 7. rei -s e
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