History

Idaho Springs, founded 1859, is the site of the first significant discovery of the Colorado Gold Rush. Mining was largely responsible for the creation and growth of Idaho Springs, and today the city continues to preserve and celebrate its rich heritage.

In 2005, the City of Idaho Springs and the Historical Society of Idaho Springs entered into a unique collaborative agreement to oversee and maintain 13 historic sites owned by the City. The responsibility is vested in the Historic Sites and Facilities Committee made up of five volunteer preservation-minded citizens appointed by the City Council.

Historic Sites

Library

219 14th Ave

The Idaho Springs Public Library is one of the few Carnegie libraries in Colorado that is still being operated as originally intended.  Construction began in 1904 and the library opened its doors on February 1, 1905. The basement housed city offices and the library operated on the upper level. When the city moved to its present location in 1986, the library expanded into the lower level. In 2010, the exterior was restored with the help of the Colorado Historical Society. That project was soon followed by a complete interior renovation and the addition of an elevator in 2012. The grounds have been named the Plummer-Robbins Park in honor of Emma Plummer who donated the land and Margaret Robbins who was the first librarian. The park will be redesigned and re-landscaped in 2016.

library

Steve Canyon

2220 Miner St.

Keeping an eye on the entrance to downtown Idaho Springs since 50, this Indiana limestone statue was donated by the character's creator, Milt Caniff. It is one of few statues of a cartoon character outside Disneyland.

Steve Canyon statue

Log Building

2220 Miner St. 

The original mining cabin was moved to the site and an addition was constructed. The building first housed the Idaho Springs Junior Chamber of Commerce. Since then, it has served as the Chamber of Commerce Visitor/Information Center, housed special classes for the Clear Creek School District and, since 2007, has been the home of KGOAT radio.

KYGT 102.7 FM cabin

Powder House

Northeast corner, Soda Creek Road and Little Bear Road. 

In the booming mining days, powder houses were constructed in the vicinity of mines to store blasting supplies. This stout little structure is the only known remaining example in the area.

Powder house

City Hall

1711 Miner St. 

Originally the Grass Valley School, the building previously sat where the Safeway Store sits now. The owners deeded the building to the Historical Society who then convinced the City to accept the building and move it to its present location to serve as City Hall and anchor the downtown historic district. The building has housed city offices since 1988.

City Hall

Engine #60 and Coach #70

 1711 Miner St.

The engine and coach were abandoned in Idaho Springs in the 1930s when the Colorado and Southern Railroad closed. With a Herculean effort by a number of train-loving volunteers, the stock was moved to its present location behind City Hall in 1987. The engine is believed to be the only remaining example of a Rhode Island Locomotive Works narrow gauge locomotive. The coach is unique in having a center partition, indicating a smoking/non-smoking area, and is believed to be the only remaining example of a St. Charles Car Company narrow gauge passenger car. Restoration is currently underway under the guidance of the Colorado & Southern Railway Society.

train

Central Hose House

1340 Miner St. 

The current building was constructed in 1925 after the original 1878 structure was ironically lost to a fire. When the Idaho Springs Volunteer Fire Department moved to a larger location, the building served for a time as the City's maintenance shop. After sitting vacant for a number of year, however, a joint effort of the Historical Society, the Fire Department volunteers and the City restored the building with help from the Colorado Historical Society. Today it is operated as a fire fighting museum by the Historical Society.

Hose house

Bryan Hose House

North side of Virginia St. and Illinois St.

 As development moved eastward, it became clear that a new hose house would be needed to serve the needs of our growing town. Byran organized a new hose company and the little brick structure was given his name upon its construction in 1908. The building is nestled among the houses its hose company once protected.

Bryan Hose House

Hose House No. 2 (aka 6th Ave. Hose House)

Northeast corner of Sixth Ave, and Colorado Blvd.

As Idaho Springs grew, this second hose house was built in 1893. It housed a hose cart and the hose and other apparatus the volunteer firefighters needed. Its location, seven blocks west of the Central Hose House, allowed a faster response in the event of a fire on the west side of town.

Hose House 2

Blue Ribbon Tunnel

On the north side of I-70, east of Exit 240.

Today, the tunnel is little more than a cave in the hillside. Once, however, it was a popular cold mineral spring where it was common to see housewives coming and going with containers of the water, said to offer great health advantages. The site was eventually closed to public access for safety concerns and construction of the interstate completely blocked access. The site can be seen from the walkway to Waterwheel Park that goes under the interstate.

Blue Ribbon Tunnel entrance

Charlie Tayler Waterwheel

On the south side of I-70 at approximately Mile Marker 240.

 

Originally constructed on Ute Creek and operated by its builder, the crusty miner Charlie Tayler, the waterwheel was moved to its present location in 1948 and, for many years was featured at a viewing spot along the interstate. In 1988, a group of local volunteers took on the monumental task of restoring the waterwheel. Today, as part of a larger CDOT project, the area is being redesigned as Waterwheel Park to better feature this unique relic of Clear Creek County's colorful mining history.

Charlie Tayler Waterwheel

Jackson Monument

320 Hwy 103. 

Dedicated in 1909, the 50th anniversary of Jackson's discovery of gold, the monument commemorates that historic event. Originally in the foreground of the Jackson Mill, now the Clear Creek School District administrative offices, the site was claimed to be as close as possible to the actual discovery site. The large rock atop the monument represents the first nugget Jackson found. The monument was refurbished and rededicated in 2009, the 150th anniversary of Jackson's discovery.

Monument where gold was first discovered in Colorado in 1859, Idaho Springs, Colorado

Pioneer Cemetery

Highway 103.

 The current cemetery is the third since the City was settled.  Earlier sites were abandoned to allow for housing developments. The oldest gravesite dates from 1874. Graves of a number of the city's earliest residents can be found there. The cemetery is still in use and many plots are still available.

Cemetery

Museums

The Heritage Museum & Visitor Center

2060 Miner Street, Idaho Springs (303) 567-4382

The Heritage Museum exhibits a number of artifacts from the 1860s to the 1940s that tell the story of George A. Jackson’s discovery of gold in 1859 and the resulting rush that transformed the valley. The museum is full of unique exhibits of our mining history, early life, and the important role it played in establishing not only Idaho Springs, but the state of Colorado itself.

Heritage Museum and Visitor Center

Underhill Museum

1416 Miner Street, Idaho Springs (303) 567-4709

A glimpse at life in the Early 1900s. Dr. James Underhill came to Idaho Springs in 1897 and was a prominent Colorado surveyor and mining engineer. Underhill was a Harvard graduate who wrote a number of books on surveying. He surveyed many of the city plots and mines in and around Idaho Springs. He was also a professor at the Colorado School of Mines, and it is worth noting that he was the first person in Colorado to earn his doctorate in geology.

Underhill Museum