Clear Creek, which roughly follows Interstate 70 west of Denver, was the location of much of the gold mining in the 1800s. There are two major towns in Clear Creek county that are located on Clear Creek, Georgetown and Idaho Springs; a smaller town – Silver Plume was also the site of meaningful mining activity.
This is a beautiful time of year along Clear Creek as the aspens have turned golden creating a canvas mostly of dark green with brilliant flashes of gold. And…gold will be the theme of this post.
Tourism has replaced gold and silver mining as the major industry along Clear Creek. There are two major mines that host tours. My family and I have toured the Phoenix mine. The tour is worthwhile; you can pan for gold and experience the frustration of most of the early miners, but you are not relying on the ore you find for your livelihood, which is a significant difference.
The Argo Mine is located within the town limits of Idaho Springs and is pictured below:
Of course, it was necessary to move the gold and laborers from the mines to markets where it could be sold and where the miners got their supplies. This necessity lead to the local Georgetown Loop railroad. The rail yard where the steam engines were serviced is located up the mountain from Georgetown in Silver Plume. The Station and the No 9 steam locomotive are shown below:
A visit to the Clear Creek area is both enjoyable and educational any time of year, but summers, while crowded with tourists is the best time to visit. If you can’t make it then, come in mid-September to mid October when the aspens are yielding their special gold the mountains.