Want to take the kids or visitors on an easy hike with some history? Then take a drive up Interstate 70 to Silver Plume.
Silver Plume is an old mining town just two miles from Georgetown. It looks like a town that time forgot. It’s right next to the highway, but drive a couple hundred yards off the highway and you’ll find yourself on dirt roads. Yes, Main Street here in a dirt road. There are still buildings on Main Street from the 1800s. Others were wiped out by fires and have been rebuilt. (Driving directions below)
Coloradotown.com says Silver Plume exists because of the Pelican Mine. Back in the 1870s, there was the Pelican Mine and the Dive Mine digging for silver. There were some arguments as they got closer underground, but the two mine owners eventually merged.
The Pelican Mine sits on a hillside just about 1/3-mile from Main Street. Find a parking space in Main Street near the appropriately named Silver Street and start hiking up Silver Street. And I do mean up. It’s a short walk up this road to the trailhead, but it will leave you out of breath. If you have kids with you or out-of-state visitors, stop on the way up and point out the colorful, old homes. Debate what colors you would paint your home if you lived here.
At the trailhead are the first remnants of the old mine. There are large pipes on the left side of the road with a mining structure behind them (see slideshow). There is a sign that says, “7:30 Mine Road.” And there is a small flume or water chute coming down from the hill. You may notice a mining structure further up the hill, this hike is going there.
At the 7:30 Mine Road sign, turn right and take the path up the hill. As you walk above the town, you can look down at more of the colorful buildings. Some are being improved, others are in disrepair. If you hear a train, that’s the Georgetown Loop Railroad that runs between Silver Plume and Georgetown. It’s a nice ride with fascinating history. There’s even a mine along the way that you can tour inside, for an additional fee.
Walk a short distance up 7:30 Mine Road to a spot where it splits. Take the 180 degree turn here and head back toward the Pelican Mine. As you approach the top of the hill, you’ll pass the top of the water flume, walk across the old mining tailings to a mining structure. If you look closely up a little higher you may notice tracks going to the structure. It appears this was used to separate ore.
Keep walking up the hill to see more of the Pelican Mines buildings. Let your kids guess which buildings were used for what. Like that big, blue storage building with tracks running to it. Look inside at some of the machinery left behind. Outside you’ll find more buildings, an old boiler and the actual entrance to the mine going into the side of the hill. BE CAREFUL exploring here. It can be easy to twist an ankle or fall on the old metal and get hurt.
While many mines are long gone, the Pelican Mine site still has several buildings, its entrance, tracks and lots to see without ever leaving the main road. As you walk back, count all the mining tailing, both gold and silver, you can see dotting the nearby hillsides.
Details: The hike to the mine and back to Main Street is about 2/3-mile with about 170 feet of elevation gain.
Directions: From I-70, exit 226 for Silver Plume. Go north on the unnamed street to where it ends at Main Street. Turn right and look for Silver Street on your left. Park near the intersection of Main and Silver.
After the hike: Take the time to explore Main Street. Some of the buildings have dates on them, some have signs detailing their history. When you’re leaving, stay on main Street, past the turn back to the highway and look for the old jail on the right (see slideshow).
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