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2016 Summer Mountain Trip Part 32 (Finale); former US Route 40 in Idaho Springs

Upon leaving Georgetown I returned to US 6/I-70 eastbound.  My next stop was in downtown Idaho Springs to what was US Route 40 on Miner Street.


This article serves as the 32nd entry and Finale of the 2016 Summer Mountain Trip Series.  Part 31 discussed the history of US Route 6 and Colorado State Route 91 in Georgetown.

2016 Summer Mountain Trip Series Part 31; former US Route 6 and Colorado State Route 91 in Georgetown

Idaho Springs is a City located in Clear Creek Canyon of Clear Creek County off of Interstate 70/US Route 6/US Route 40.  Idaho Springs is located at the confluence of Clear Creek and Chicago Creek.  Said confluence of Clear Creek and Chicago Creek was the site of a major gold strike made by prospector George A. Jackson on January 5th 1859.  Jackson was attracted to the confluence of Clear Creek and Chicago Creek due to steam that was rising from a nearby hot spring.  Jackson kept his claim secret for several months but soon word spread and a small community by the name of "Jackson's Diggings" would soon arise.  The community of Jackson's Diggings would later use the names of; "Sacramento City," "Idahoe," and "Idaho City" before the modern name of "Idaho Springs" took hold.  Idaho Springs was one of the earliest communities to spring to life during the Pikes Peak Gold Rush.

As noted in Part 29, Part 30, and Part 31 the corridor of 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.  Idaho Springs being located at the confluence of Clear Creek and Chicago Creek was a primary hub of the Loveland Wagon Road.

During the Auto Trail era the road through Idaho Springs remained a major corridor of travel.  The Midland-Roosevelt Trail is shown being aligned through Idaho Springs en route west to Berthoud Pass on the 1924 Rand McNally Regional Highway Map.   By 1921 the Victory Highway was also formed which was also aligned Idaho Springs. 


By November 1926 the US Route System was finalized.  US Route 40 was aligned west of Denver by way of Clear Creek Canyon and Berthoud Pass.  The 1927 Rand McNally Highway Map of Colorado shows US Route 40 co-signed with the Victory Highway through Idaho Springs.  


Topographical Maps indicate that early US 40 westbound entered downtown Idaho Springs by way of Miner Street.  US 40 appears to have taken a jog north on 13th Avenue where it continued west on Colorado Boulevard towards Empire.  By 1931 a new bridge had been built over Clear Creek and extended Colorado Boulevard into a bypass of downtown Idaho Springs.  It isn't fully clear but it appears that US 40 was realigned onto Colorado Boulevard following the opening new bridge over Clear Creek.  A plaque on the Bridge over Clear Creek on Colorado Boulevard can be seen here on Google Street View

By 1937 US 6 was extended from Greeley, CO to Long Beach, CA according to USends.  US 6 multiplexed US 40 through Idaho Springs and split away towards Loveland Pass at Empire, this can be see on the 1939 State Farm Insurance Map of Colorado.  US 40/US 6 would remain on Colorado Boulevard in Idaho Springs until the grade of I-70 was constructed south of Clear Creek.


I pulled into Idaho Springs via I-70/US 40/US 6 Exit 240 and onto 13th Avenue.  I parked on Miner Street and began my walking tour of former US 40 eastbound.  The first attraction that caught my eye was Idaho Springs Fire Department Station #1 at the northwest corner of Miner Street and 14th Avenue.  The 1905 Idaho Springs Library can be seen in the background behind Station #1.  


A look at former US 40 eastbound on Miner Street from 14th Avenue. 


Some of the street scenes on Miner Street approaching 15th Avenue. 






More of eastbound Miner Street approaching 16th Avenue. 




A look west on Miner Street from 16th Avenue. 


Idaho Springs City Hall can be found at the southeast intersection of Miner Street and 17th Avenue on the banks of Clear Creek.  Idaho Springs City Hall was originally known as the Grass Valley School and was located at the present site of Safeway.  The Grass Valley School was donated to the City of Idaho Springs, the City moved the structure and relocated City Hall there during 1988. 



A look west on Miner Street from 17th Avenue. 


From Idaho Springs I returned I-70/US 40/US 6 and followed I-70 all the way east into Denver.  I had an extra day in Denver that I saved just in case my trip was delayed for any reason.  Unfortunately, I ended up spending the day watching a terrible movie (Independence Day Resurgence) instead of doing something more grand in scale.  The following morning I took Pena Boulevard back to the rental car facility at Denver International Airport and headed back home to Florida.  Back during 2019 I did cover the interestingly ominous Pena Boulevard and Denver International Airport which can be found below:


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