Silver Plume is wedged in a narrow valley between dramatically steep mountains. It is named for ore so rich that silver flakes broke off in feathery plumes. Owen Feenan made the first strike in 1868 and called it the Pelican Mine. Because of illness, however, he was unable to protect his find, and his rightful fortune was stolen.
The Pelican was one of the richest mines in the region. Its vein was ample enough that a rival mining company, The Dives, digging nearby, struck it, too. The feud that ensued did not end in court but at the end of a gun barrel when the owner of the Pelican was stalked and killed in nearby Georgetown. Another promising mine was discovered in the late 1860s by an Englishman named Clifford Griffin. He called it the Seven-Thirty Mine, for he required his workers to begin their shifts one hour later than the typical 6:30 a.m. time.
While Griffin’s mine yielded $8 million in silver, his soul was forever tormented by the death of his financée on the eve of their wedding Griffin became a recluse, building a solitary home and digging a grave near his mine. Alone in the evening, he would lament his loss by sadly playing his violin until one night when the music ceased, a single shot rang out, and Griffin’s body was found with a request to be buried where he lay. Not all of Silver Plume’s history ended tragically.
The town achieved national recognition in 1882 when the Georgetown Loop Railroad was completed. The loop was famous for its brilliantly engineered series of switchbacks climbing 1.000 feet in two miles. The loop facilitated transport of mining products and insured the longevity of the town as a tourist destination even after the silver crash of 1893. In nineteenth-century texts, the Georgetown Loop was likened to the Seven Wonders of the World, including Niagra Falls and the Grand Canyon.
Silver Plume, founded 1869. Population in 2020 was 215, compared to 908 in 1890. By some reports, the population peaked over 2000 back in the 1890s, and today it is nearly a ghost town. The Bread Bar is a cocktail bar in an 1885 building, once a bakery. It is currently open Fri, Sat, Sun.