The History Of Clear Creek County

Where Old West Meets New Adventure

Step back in time and explore our authentic western mining and railroad heritage! Clear Creek County includes the historic communities of Idaho Springs, Empire, Georgetown, and Silver Plume which were also four of Colorado’s original mining camps in the 1800s. Clear Creek County is one of the seventeen original Colorado Counties and one of the three left in the state with its original boundaries. 

Clear Creek County is made up of more than 75% public lands, including the USFS Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forests and Pawnee National Grassland with a total area of 396 square miles.



Travel back in time to the flourishing hub of Colorado’s Gold Country more than 150 years ago and you will discover rich Clear Creek County History rooted in the gold discovery of George Andrew Jackson. In fact,  just off of Interstate 70 and Exit 240 in Idaho Springs is where Jackson discovered gold on January 7th 1859 at the confluence of Chicago Creek and Clear Creek. This discovery ultimately triggered the Colorado Gold Rush. 

Three short months later, the secret was out and by April the first settlement was established two miles above Idahoe and was named Spanish Bar, due to the evidence of earlier mining by the Spanish Conquistadors.

Mining districts were founded creating their laws and civil government in order to protect their claims from claim jumpers, thieves, murderers, and all other unlawful acts. On November 1, 1861 the territorial Legislature of Colorado subdivided the territory into seventeen counties and Idahoe was named the County seat in the legislative act of establishment. Colorado Governor Gilpin appointed the first three County Commissioners to organize the civil government of Clear Creek County.


Historic photo of Georgetown

In November of 1861, the Board of County Commissioners met and divided the County into seven voting precincts. The first County election resulted in elections for a sheriff, clerk and recorder, treasurer, assessor, county attorney, superintendent of schools, and a probate judge.

As more and more miners moved into Clear Creek County, the prospecting traveled west along Clear Creek. In 1867, the Colorado Legislature called a special election and the County seat was moved from Idaho Springs to Georgetown.

Colorado's Best Kept Secret

Today, Clear Creek County is one of Colorado’s best kept secrets. Whether you are planning a day trip or an extended stay, Clear Creek County will not disappoint – Come experience the Old West while discovering New Adventure just west of Denver and the Mile High Front Range.  

Come Experience Clear Creek County For Yourself