Friday, July 10, 2015

Road Trip - Georgetown, CO

Hamill House Georgetown, CO
Road Trips are a fun way to spend the day, especially with your spouse, driving into the front range mountain communities and touring them.  I take occasional road trips and think just about everyone should get out and drive into a small town and take the time to look into their history.
Georgetown, Colorado was our goal for today, elevation 8530.  Georgetown began back in 1859, as a mining camp at a wide spot in the valley where silver had been found.  The first discovery of silver in Colorado was found by James Huff on September 14, 1864 about 8 miles from town near Argentine Pass.
The railroad came to town in the 1870's, and ran twice daily on the 52 miles of track to Denver, a trip costing $3.45. The town's population grew to over 10,000 people before the Sherman Silver Act was repealed in 1893. Of course most of the mines shut down and people left the area then, looking for riches elsewhere. It was in the 1950's when the town began to grow again as a watering hole for the high country skiers, returning home after a fine day on the slopes.
It was 15 degrees cooler than it was in Denver today and was raining off and on during our visit with overcast skies.  On previous trips to Georgetown, we had ridden the Georgetown Loop Railroad, had driven over Guanella Pass to Grant and had visited the shops and walked the streets.  Of the many things to see and do in Georgetown, we had missed touring the Hamill House and the historic Hotel de Paris.

Open yard showing Hamill House conservatory, fountain, office and barn on site
The Hamill House built in 1867 for the family of Joseph Watson.  Watson's brother-in-law William Arthur Hamill acquired the house in 1874 and by 1878 had acquired a fortune which he turned back into the house.  A new wing, conservatory, gas lighting, central heating and running water.  His office outside is where the mine workers were paid.  The tour was nice to see how the house was laid out, the conservatory was a welcome addition for the wealthy people of the late 1800's and the upstairs bedrooms looked a lot like other houses of the age.  I highly recommend the Hamill house tour.

Hotel de Paris
From there we toured the Louis DuPuy Hotel de France.  Mr. DuPuy created a fine high society hotel, with a fine French restaurant where he offered exquisite service to his customers and a showroom fro traveling salespeople.  His story before he came to Georgetown was very interesting. My favorite part of the tour is the kitchen, how progressive and thoughtful the design was.  Again, this historic site tour is highly recommended!

Old Silver Plume Jail
From Georgetown, we traveled west one exit to Silver Plume and drove the back streets and neighborhood.  My apologies to the residents, but Silver Plume looks like it is on the way to being a ghost town again with the fact that some businesses that were open last year now closed.  I did like the old jail and the Historic School.  We passed on the Old School tour for time (and rain) and drove back east on I-70.

Just so you know...
Idaho Springs was our next stop on the Road Trip, where we toured the neighborhoods and the welcome center.  Gold was first discovered here in January 1859 George Andrew Jackson discovered gold while camping on a sandbar at the confluence of Chicago and Clear Creeks.  This event launched the Colorado Gold Rush the next spring and made many people wealthy beyond imagination.  The welcome center east of downtown is worth a stop to see mining exhibits and displays of old stuff. Tommy Knocker beer is brewed downtown and if you like fine local breweries, you will need to stop here for a sample.  The Victorian houses here are awesome!  Around the town you can see three of the original fire station hose house buildings where the hoses were stored in preparation for a fire.  There was a lot of activity here, though the streets were sometimes very steep with houses seemingly built on top of each other.  The Argo Mine and its tunnel through the mountain to Central City is on our list to visit next time as we ran out of time for the day.  All in all, a great day and a great  Road Trip!
From Denver, drive I-70 west and up into the mountains.  Exit 228 is where you leave the Interstat for Georgetown, turn left under the overpass and right into the welcome center.

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