Silver Plume Colorado

Silver Plume

When silver was discovered in the area just west of Georgetown, the silver was so abundant that much of the silver lay in feather-like formations.  Many consider this factor the reason for the name Silver Plume.  The town is surrounded by Republican Mountain on the north and by Mount McClellan on the south and sits at 9,114 feet above sea level.

Silver-Plume-ColoradoAlthough the town was in existence in 1870, it was not incorporated until September 21, 1880.  But on election night in 1884, a fire destroyed the east end of the town. The only fire-fighting equipment available was leather buckets!  So in 1885, town officials purchased a hand pumper for the city which is still used today in parades and other city celebrations.  In 1884 the town installed a water system which served until the 1980’s when it was replaced to comply with state standards.  Silver Plume also had a granite quarry on the west side of the town.  Granite used in the Colorado State capital was mined from Silver Plume!

The peak years for Silver Plume’s population occurred from 1885 to 1905.  During these years, the population of the area was around 2,000 and that included Brownville, the area just to the west of Silver Plume.  In 1895, Brownville was partially buried by a mud slide which buried seven homes but claimed no lives.

Silver Plume has always been known for its celebrations – especially the Fourth of July.  Band concerts, hand-drilling contests, and horse races have always been on the agenda. From 1902 until 1910 one of the best bands in the state was located in Silver Plume. Colorado’s first ski club was formed in 1913 when J. B. Ballentine, who had spent several years in Norway, worked with one of his co-workers to supply homemade skis to all interested parties in the area.  Twenty fours charter members – both male and female – created the club.  By 1914, the club was hosting “ski tournaments” on a slope northwest of town.  During the off-season, this group became the “theater” group and presented plays in the opera house.

Historic-View-of-Silver-Plume

In 1884, the Colorado and Southern was completed as part of the Georgetown Loop Railroad.  This line extended west to Graymont.  Edward Wilcox, a Methodist minister, extended the line sixteen miles in order to reach his mining interests on Mount McClellan.  It passed through Waldorf, at an elevation of 11,600 feet above sea level.  This line terminated at a mining tunnel filled with ice formations called the Ice Palace and was an active tourist attraction until the minister refused to run the train on Sundays. He was finally forced to sell the line in 1907 and an aerial tramway was installed to the top of Sunrise Peak on Mount McClellan.

As with Georgetown, the area began to decline with the repeal of the Sherman Silver Purchase Act of 1893.  Today Silver Plume has around 200 residents and remains entrenched in its rich history and tourist trade.