photo courtesy of the Colorado Railroad Museum.
The Georgetown Leadville Railroad was organized by the Union Pacific Railroad as a rail line west from Georgetown to Leadville.
The original survey was done by Captain E.L. Berthoud in 1879, who was soon replaced by Mr. Jacob Blickensderfer.
In 1882, construction began to the town of Silver Plume, just a few miles from Georgetown.
The 3% steep grade up to Silver Plume required almost 5 miles of track to be laid 638 feet high.
The tracks continued up Clear Creek Canyon, twisting and crossing over itself until it reached Silver Plume.
From the railroad bridge above the canyon, the majesty and natural beauty of the area could be seen.
The bridge soon became a tourist destination. It was an engineering marvel. The train, however, never made it to Leadville. Silver Plume was its last destination.
For almost 50 years, the tourist trade was alive and well in Georgetown and traveling "the Loop" was a treat for all visitors.
With the coming of automobiles and the mines giving out, the railroad line was discontinued in 1927.
Then in 1938, the great bridge was torn down and sold for scrap lumber and steel.
What a shame. The bridge was a great feat of engineering for its time.
However, all was not lost. The Colorado Historical Society became involved in the 1960's with a plan for a restoration project and museum near the Lebanon Mine in Georgetown.
It included rebuilding a section of the original narrow gauge railroad.
The Georgetown Railroad Loop was born. And in 1982, the railroad bridge was rebuilt.
A grant from the Boettcher Foundation of one million dollars made sure the Georgetown Loop could be completed.
Today, the railroad carries tourists on a round trip starting at the Georgetown Depot to Silver Plume from May through September.
It is a terrific scenic journey into Colorado's past. Thank goodness for the people with the insight to restore this piece of history.