1994 Mining History Association Field Trip

 

PHOTO GALLERY 7 of 7 

Georgetown Tour, June 7, 1994

Option C: Georgetown City Tour

(Reconstructed)

George and Dave Griffith discovered gold at the head of Clear Creek in 1859 and the Georgetown-Silver Plume mining district was born. The gold played out quickly and many miners and prospectors moved on.  In 1865 and 1866, silver-lead ores were discovered. The most active period of silver mining was from 1872 to 1893.  Before the discoveries in Leadville in 1878, Georgetown and Silver Plume comprised the most prominent silver producing district in Colorado.  Although the larger producers were in Silver Plume, Georgetown took on the moniker of “Silver Queen of the Rockies.” 

 

Some of the prominent mines in the Georgetown area included the Colorado Central and the Kirtley Mines located in the valley of Leavenworth Creek two miles southwest of town. The Colorado Central Vein averaged 200 ounces of silver per ton over a 16 year period.  The Comet-Aetna, Griffith, and Magnet Veins, located about a mile east of Georgetown, hosted the Annette-Griffith Mine, the Capitol Tunnel, and others. The Lebanon Mines group is located on Republican Mountain to the west near the Georgetown Loop.  The mining camp of Waldorf, a few miles further south of Georgetown, was also an important area silver producer.  The total production of the Georgetown-Silver Plume District is estimated to be over $30,000,000.  During both world wars, mines in the district were reopened for lead and zinc.

 

Remarkably, Georgetown escaped fires that devastated many western mining towns.  This may have been attributed to the town’s four volunteer fire companies.  Over 200 original buildings remain.  In 1966, the Georgetown-Silver Plume National Historic District was designated a National Historic Landmark.  It comprises Georgetown, Silver Plume, and the Georgetown Loop Historic Mining and Railroad Park which links the two towns.  A walking tour is the best way to explore Georgetown’s many historic buildings.

 

Unfortunately, no photographs remain from the 1994 Mining History Association tours.  Using historic and more recent photographs, the Photo Galleries attempt to reconstruct what attendees saw as they visited the various Colorado mining towns.

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This 1908 view of Georgetown shows the downtown with the Annette-Griffith, Capitol, and Comet Mines on Griffith Mountain beyond. (After Spurr and Garrey, Professional Paper 63, USGS)

Close examination of this modern view of Georgetown reveals the historic mine dumps on the far mountainside and the iconic tower of the Alpine Hose No. 2 firehouse in the downtown area.

The view to the south along 6th street shows the Star Hook and Ladder firehouse in the distance. Mining took place on Griffith Mountain beyond.  Most of the historic buildings were built in the 1870-1880s.

The view to the north shows Republican Mountain and Interstate 70 in the distance.  The restored commercial buildings now house boutiques and restaurants.

The Hotel De Paris was built by Louis Dupuy in the 1870s. Today it is a National Trust for Historic Preservation site and museum operated by the Colonial Dames of America.

The Hamill house, now a museum, was constructed in 1867.  It was enlarged in 1874 by William Hamill, a mining magnate.  The property includes a conservatory, fountain, and several outbuildings.  It is one of the most elegant and architecturally significant buildings in Colorado.

Georgetown once had four volunteer fire companies.  The distinctive Alpine Hose No. 2 firehouse has become a symbol of the town.  It was constructed in 1875.  The distinctive bell and hose drying tower was added in 1880. The bell was donated by William Hamill.

 The Star Hook and Ladder firehouse was built in 1886 to accommodate a new ladder wagon.  Restored in the 1960s, it was used for melodrama performances.  It now serves as Georgetown’s Town Hall.

 

Photo Credits Mike and Pat Kaas (unless otherwise attributed)

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