Skip to main content

2016 Summer Mountain Trip Part 30; former US Route 6 and Colorado State Route 91 in Silver Plume

Upon descending modern US Route 6 from Loveland Pass into Clear Creek Canyon I turned east on US 6/Interstate 70 towards Denver.  On my way back to Denver I made numerous stops at locales in Clear Creek Canyon and Clear Creek County.  The first stop was at the quasi-ghost town of Silver Plume to check out former US 6 on Water Street.  While I was in Silver Plume I stumbled upon was what part of Colorado State Route 91 on Main Street. 


This article serves as the 30th entry in the 2016 Summer Mountain Trip Series.  Part 29 covered the history of Loveland Pass and can be found below:

2016 Summer Mountain Trip Series Part 29; US Route 6 over Loveland Pass

As noted in Part 29 Loveland Pass is one of the oldest transportation corridors through the Rockies.  Loveland Pass traces it's origins back to a wagon road constructed through Clear Creek Canyon by William A.H. Loveland in 1863-1864.  The Loveland wagon road up Clear Creek Canyon to Loveland Pass was built to take advantage of the numerous mining stamp mills that popped up during the Pikes Peak Gold Rush.

Silver Plume was founded during 1870 as claims at the Pelican Mine began operations.  Silver Plume quickly grew to a peak population of about 1,000 residents but quickly declined to approximately 100 by 1890 as mining activity shifted towards Leadville.  The original alignment of the Loveland wagon road through Silver Plume was via Main Street through directly through downtown.

By 1879 the Colorado Central Railroad became interested extending the line from Georgetown west through Silver Plume to Leadville.  The solution to solve the 6% grades of Clear Creek Canyon was to reduce the grade to 3% by use of heavy switchbacks.  This series of switchbacks and curves would come to be known as the Georgetown Loop.  The Georgetown Loop was complete by 1884 which is when the first trains in Silver Plume began to arrive.  The Georgetown Loop and Colorado Central ultimately would only make it a couple miles west of Silver Plume. 

During the Auto Trail era in Colorado the road over Loveland Pass by way of Georgetown and Silver Plume appeared not to be a major corridor of travel.  No signed highways appear over Georgetown, Silver Plume, and Loveland Pass on the 1924 Rand McNally Regional Highway Map.  The Midland-Roosevlt Midland Trail is shown to climb out of Clear Creek Canyon via Berthoud Pass (future US 40) via Empire.


Georgetown, Silver Plume, and Loveland Pass appears on the route of CO 91 on the 1927 Rand McNally Highway Map of Colorado.  CO 91 in it's original form began at US 40S in Leadville.  CO 91 from Leadville headed northeast via Fremont Pass and Loveland Pass to US 40/CO 2 in Empire.  Undoubtedly CO 91 was aligned on Main Street as topographical maps show that as the through highway during the era. 


During the 1930s US 40 through clear Creek Canyon was improved which is evidenced by bridge work on Colorado Boulevard in Idaho Springs having date stamps of "1931."  By 1937 US 6 was extended from Greeley, CO to Long Beach, CA according to USends.  US 6 absorbed the entire route of CO 91 which aligned it through Georgetown, Silver Plume, Loveland Pass, and Fremont Pass which can be seen on the 1939 State Farm Insurance Map of Colorado.  By 1940 US 6 would be rerouted from Fremont Pass to Vail Pass but Loveland Pass would remain as part of the highway.


Regarding former CO 91 on Main Street in Silver Plume; it is likely that US 6 was aligned on it for a short amount of time.  The last train from Silver Plume to Denver ran during 1938 according to georgetownlooprr.com.  After the Georgetown Loop closed it was dismantled which left an opening for a new highway alignment for US 6 to be built on Water Street.  US 6 would remain on Water Street until the highway was multiplexed onto I-70.

Silver Plume is accessed from US 6/I-70 Exit 226.  From the Exit Ramp the Silver Plume station for the Georgetown Loop is obvious on Railroad Avenue.  The Georgetown Loop was reconstructed between 1973 and 1984 as a tourism line.


A garage along Water Street had numerous vintage cars on display.




The Silver Plume Public School can be found on former CO 91 on Main Street.  The Silver Plume Public School was built during 1894 and now houses the George Rowe Museum.



Upon leaving Silver Plume I headed east on US 6/I-70 further into Clear Creek Canyon.  My next destination was close by at much more lively Georgetown. 

2016 Summer Mountain Trip Part 31; former US Route and Colorado State 91 through Georgetown

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

California State Route 190; a Trans-Sierra Highway that could have been

This past week I decided to take a small scale road trip on California State Route 190 from CA 99 east to the unbuilt section over the Sierra Nevada Range.  While I was in for what turned out to be a fun drive following the course of the Tule River watershed what I found researching the back story of CA 190 was one of the most complex and unusual stories of any California State Highway.  Given that I had a ton of older photos of the eastern segment of CA 190 in the Mojave Desert of Inyo County I thought it was time to put something together for the entire route. The simplified story of CA 190 is that it is a 231 mile state highway that has a 43 mile unbuilt gap in the Sierra Nevada Range.  CA 190 is an east/west State Highway running from CA 99 in Tulare County at Tipton east to CA 127 located in Death Valley Junction near the Nevada State Line in rural Inyo County.  The routing CA 190 was adopted into the State Highway system as Legislative Route 127 which was adopted in 1933 acc

I-73/I-74 and NC Future Interstates, Year in Review 2022

Another year over, already? 2022 turned out to be quite the year if you are a fan of new interstate routes, and it wasn't bad for some long standing favorites. As per the tradition, I will review what happened with I-73 and I-74, and then the other new and future interstate routes in North Carolina... Work continued on the one segment of I-73 under construction, the I-73/I-74 Rockingham Bypass. As of the beginning of December, work was getting close to being 2/3 complete at 60.1%. Progress could be seen from US 74 on constructing of the future interchange at the Bypass's southern end. Here's a look from US 74 East in September from Google Maps Street View: Here's a photo from US 74 West taken last week by David Gallo: Work is now scheduled to be completed in October 2025, though the road itself could open earlier that year.  Progress on I-74 earned more publicity in 2022 with the opening of 7.5 more miles of the Winston-Salem Northern Beltway from US 311 (Exit 49) to NC

Interstate 605

Interstate 605 is a 27.4-mile freeway located in the Los Angeles Metropolitain Area.  Interstate 605 begins at Interstate 210 near Duarte and terminates at the Interstate 405/California State Route 22 junction to the south near the boundary to the city of Long Beach.  Interstate 605 is known as the San Gabriel River Freeway and has three unconstructed miles which would extend it south to California State Route 1 near Seal Beach.  Much of the corridor of Interstate 605 was built up from what was the original California State Route 35.  The blog cover photo is taken from the July/August 1964 California Highways & Public Works which featured the initial segment of Interstate 605 to open between Whittier Boulevard and Peck Road  Part 1; the history of the San Gabriel River Freeway and Interstate 605 The origin of what is now Interstate 605 begins during 1933 with the addition of Legislative Route Number 170 (LRN 170) to the State Highway System.  The original definition of LRN 170 was