In the summer of 1859, following the great gold rush, the Griffith brothers from Kentucky (George and David) traveled to Central City. Wanting a little more elbow room, they continued on following the south fork of Clear Creek toward present day Idaho Springs. Within two days, on June 17, George Griffith struck gold! News traveled quickly and a small and growing settlement began, known as “George’s Town.” After gold-mining collapsed, silver was discovered and Georgetown experienced another boom.
By the end of 1866, Georgetown was growing faster than any other Colorado community. Small hotels started opening up for tourists but the town still lacked a railroad to get them there! In addition, the system for transporting the millions of dollars of ore coming out of the region was inefficient, at best. It took several years, but in October, 1871, representatives from Georgetown met with officials of the Colorado Central Railroad to discuss the building of a railroad line to Georgetown.
In December, 1872, the first railroad line through Clear Creek Canyon reached Black Hawk. Five years later, in June, 1877, the railroad reached Idaho Springs and two months later the route made it to Georgetown. The completion of this railroad line was due to financier Jay Gould, the head of the Union Pacific Railroad, who supplied the necessary funds to get the train to these towns. The railroad could now take ore down the mountain. It could also bring people up. The Rocky Mountains were finally open for tourism.
The advent of car travel greatly reduced excursion train trips. In 1938, the last of the trains ran from Denver to Silver Plume. The line from Idaho Springs to Silver Plume was abandoned and the Georgetown Loop dismantled, ending a colorful era of railroad history. For many years, the gorgeous sights seen from the Georgetown Loop were only a memory. Then, in 1973, construction on the rail line began after the Union Pacific donated the track and ties for the reconstruction of the Georgetown Loop.
1975 was the first operating season of the new Georgetown Loop which ran on a small portion of completed track. Today, the Georgetown Loop Railroad provides a historic, fun-filled outing for the family. The trains run through December. Check here for information to plan your day.