The History of Clear Creek County

Discover the Rich Old West History of our County

Clear Creek County was created as a result of George Andrew Jackson’s discovery of gold on January 7, 1859. Although he attempted to keep the discovery a secret, it only lasted until April of 1859, when the current location of Idaho Springs was inundated with its first group of miners. But the first settlement was actually two miles above Idahoe and was named Spanish Bar, due to the evidence of earlier mining by the Spanish Conquistadors.

Clear Creek is a diverse county, with 86% of the land national forest. It is one of the seventeen original counties and one of the three left in the state with its original boundaries. Mining districts were founded creating their laws and civil government in order to protect their claims from claim jumpers, thieves, murderers, and all other unlawful acts.

On November 1, 1861 the territorial Legislature of Colorado subdivided the territory into seventeen counties and Idahoe was named the county seat in the legislative act of establishment. Colorado governor Gilpin appointed the first three county commissioners to organize the civil government of Clear Creek County. The commissioners then met and divided the county into seven voting precincts. The first county election resulted in elections for a sheriff, clerk and recorder, treasurer, assessor, county attorney, superintendent of schools, and a probate judge.

As more and more miners moved into the county, the prospecting moved west following Clear Creek which runs most of the length of the county. Founded Georgetown while John Dumont settled in the Mill City area (now Dumont).

When Mill City was built in 1860 all the homes were, naturally, log cabins. In 1860, the settlement was renamed Dumont, in honor of the founder, John M. Dumont. Shortly after, Dumont was awarded their first post office.

Further west the Griffith brothers, David and George, were instrumental in settling Georgetown where they discovered the rich silver veins. In 1867, the Colorado Legislature called a special election and the county seat was moved from Idaho Springs to Georgetown. Georgetown was incorporated in 1885 and established their post office in 1866.

Clear Creek County is the gateway to the Rocky Mountains. Located just west of Denver along Interstate 70, Clear Creek has 396 square miles of public lands to explore, as well as four mountain peaks above 14,000 feet. Clear Creek is comprised of charming mountains towns Idaho Springs, Downieville, Lawson, Empire, Georgetown, and Silver Plume, which are all along the I-70 corridor. Learn more about Clear Creek County here.

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