Originally Published July 6, 2015
Throughout Colorado, especially in the mountain towns, there are a number of smallmuseums that offer a plethora of history about life in Colorado, about our history as a nation, and some just truly fun things as well, For just a small fee, or in some cases, no fee at all,you can get a glimpse of what life was like around the time Colorado became a state. Here’s a short list of just a few of the museums in our foothills, just a short drive out of Denver, the hidden gems on main streets and back roads in some of our towns. Where available, the links to the museums have been provided for more details,
Hammill House Museum – Hammill House is part of Historic Georgetown, and one of several museums offered in Georgetown. With museums alone and a ride on Georgetown Loop train, you could make a day trip, with lunch and dinner in some of the best mountain restaurants around. The Hammill family was one of the most influential families int he development of Georgetown as well as Denver; Mr. William Hammill was deeply involved in early Colorado politics and Silver mining. Descendants of the Hammill family include a nationally famous face as well – can you figure out who it is? Hammill House offers tours daily on the half hour from 11:30 am to 3:30pm on weekdays, and 11:30am to 4:30pm on weekends. Drop ins are always welcome
Also in Georgetown is the Hotel De Paris, the preimier hotel in Georgetown during the silver boom, and it offered a first class French restaurant, as well a s big city style accommodations.Hotel De Paris offers tours daily May 23-September 30, and on weekends October-December 13.
The Georgetown Energy Museum is an interesting place for those who want to learn more about early hydroelectric energy. Open weekends Memorial Day to October 1, it is open 10 am- 4pm. But if you are in Georgetown during the week, you can just call for a tour!
The Georgetown Loop Railroad not only offers a ride on the historic train that connected Georgetown and Silver Plume together, but also with Denver, it offers tours of the Lebanon and Everett mines. the railroad offers coach seats, first class seats, as well as extended train ride and mine tour combinations. The railroad and mines are open daily throughout the summer; the mines close mid October, and the railroad contines a shortened schedule throughout the winter. For the 2015 schedule, please look here –http://georgetownlooprr.com/schedule-fares
Just up the road a few miles, a town tied directly to Georgetown and Idaho Springs through mining contracts, is Silver Plume, which has a museum in the old schoolhouse, the George Rowe Museum. It is open daily 10 am – 4pm May through Labor Day, and then on weekends only through mid September. This museum shows the early history of Silver Plume, Silver mining history, and of course, school history in a mountain town.
Closer to the City are the museums of Idaho Springs and Evergreen. In Idaho Springs, you can find the Argo Mine. The Argo is actually a gold mine in silver mining country, making it a bit different, as the techniques were different. The Argo Mine tunnel actually reaches Central City, 4 1/5 miles away through the mountains! They are open daily 9 am- 5pm, but the last tour of the day does start at 3:30pm. In the winter, they are subject to the weather, so please call ahead.
While in Idaho Springs, you can also check out the Underhill Museum. Mr. Underhill was a prominent surveyor and mining engineer, and he and his wife made their home – and his office – right on Idaho Spring’s main street – Miner Street. You get to tour his offices as well as their home behind and above the offices. The museum is open on the weekends during winter, spring and fall, and open on weekdays during the summer 11 am – 5 pm.
In Evergreen, there is the Humphrey House Museum. Built in the 1920s, the home and ranch were a family dwelling until the 1990s, The home and all it contents were donated as a museum, making it a rather unique travel through time as you go through the house. Mr. Humphrey was head of the copy desk at the Rocky Mountain News for 25 years, and the Denver Post for 10, and drove 2 1/2 hours daily to get to work and home so that he could enjoy living in the mountains. The museum is open Tuesday through Saturday 10 am – 4 pm.
Deeper into the heart of Evergreen sits the Hiwan Homestead. The family once owned cattle ranching property that extended all the way to Central City. One of the most unique log buildings you will ever see, it has 25 rooms, including an octagon chapel, and several cabins as well, one of which houses the Jefferson County Historical Society. They are open daily June through August 11 am – 5 pm, and then Tuesday – Sunday Noon – 5 pm the rest of the year.
This is just a small collection of the wonderful museums you can find within a hour’s drive out of Denver.